November 2017 Newsletter: Student Spotlight – Shantae J. Edwards

I started my career in early childhood education with my first job as a tutor at the age of 14. I developed a love for working with young people. While pursuing my Bachelors of Arts in Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I worked as a tutor at the local middle school for three years, worked at the Boys and Girls Club, and the Champaign County Urban League. After I graduated college, I remained embedded in early childhood and working with young people turned from just a passion to a mission, a commitment. I’ve been in youth development for 11 years.

My passion to work with children stems from me being the oldest of seven and being a product of a marginalized community in Chicago. Growing up I was a curious child; however, I watched my peers who lived in the same community feel defeated by the odds to the point where they were discouraged by them, causing them to not succeed or go as far as the could have gone.

Young people are our future. They deserve to know at a young age that their presence is powerful. They deserve to know that they are an asset to the world and that they matter. I believe supporting young people to have a positive mindset supports their development into adulthood.

I enjoy the time I get to spend with the future leaders of tomorrow. Seriously, it is an honor to not only serve as an educator and teach youth but also receive from them as well. Every day I learn something new, something valuable that allows me to feel confident in my interaction with youth and also support them in their dreams and where they want to be.

My favorite time of day to spend time with children is during the morning because it allows for me to bring my energy and support them in starting off their day with gratitude, positivity, and productivity.

Free time is “me” time. I learned that it is important to stay focused on self-care, so during my free time I read, journal, and binge watch my favorite shows. I’ve learned in my 11 years with youth that it is important to take care of yourself so that you can be present for them. It’s not only a great example for them to learn and then adapt as they get older but it’s also unfair when as an educator we don’t take “free” time, we may bring negativity to youth.

CCEI courses I have taken are CCEI112A: Child Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Reporting Requirements for Early Childhood Professionals, CCEI112D: Child Abuse: The Impact of Maltreatment on Relationship Skills and Bonding, and CCEI120: Brain Development and the Effects of Early Deprivation. I do plan on obtaining further CCEI coursework and credentials. I believe CCEI offers a comprehensive curriculum that allowed me to gain new information. I would definitely recommend CCEI to others.

I plan to remain in education for the long haul. My career is expanding in the field of social sustainability with a focus on education and opportunities for marginalized youth. I will be building my current social enterprise, IMDOPE, Inc., to offer more opportunities for exposure for marginalized communities.

I also will pursue a doctorate in Human Development Psychology with a long term plan of becoming a college professor. I will start my doctoral program in the Fall of 2019.