Back to intro > UAA alumni educate and inspire
Blake Stevens (’09) comes from a family of teachers. His mother was a public school teacher and his father was the assistant superintendent of the Bellingham School District. As a 4th and 5th grader he helped out in his mom’s kindergarten class and as he grew older, found he enjoyed helping others find solutions to their academic and life questions. “Ultimately, I feel accomplished when I can help others succeed, and that is why I wanted to teach [as an Americorps volunteer].” Blake, a Mechanical Engineering major, worked with Clay Schwenn of the UAA Advising center to map out his plan of study and to apply for the Americorps program.
Personal dreams of the future are what inspire Blake. “I am fascinated when a freshman in high school tells me they want to go to college to become a sports writer or 7th grader who wants to go to UW. The fact that dreams can become a reality is inspiring. They strive to be able to contribute to the world in a way that is important to them. The knowledge that people are fulfilling their dreams motivates me to find my dream.”
Blake’s mom and dad had the biggest influence on his life. “They both devoted their lives to help others and did it because they loved it. They had passion and wanted to do the best they could to improve others’ lives. My parents are amazing role models and I thank them for their inspiration.”
Blake and his co-worker had spent the year at school trying to engage three smart students who often missed classes and appeared to not care about school. “Every time I had the opportunity I would give compliments and offer help. I knew they needed my help even when they didn’t know how to ask for it. At the end of the school year these three students saw my co-worker and I playing basketball in the park and we asked them to join us. During that game of basketball all the barriers were dropped. We had fun, and this was huge because at school these students did not allow themselves to have fun. The façade of being too cool for school was not there. They trusted us enough that they could finally just act as kids. This was my favorite moment teaching because I witnessed the outcome of a year’s worth of guidance from my co-worker and I and the courage of three students to be themselves.”
Through exuding positivity, Blake created a classroom environment where students could feel comfortable and also remain positive. “I believe learning, and school in general, is exciting and fun and I tried to promote that. I usually ended up singing or dancing but these silly actions were put in place to promote a safe atmosphere where everyone was allowed to be who they wanted to be.”
Now that Americorps is over, Blake is figuring out what he’ll do next. “I had a great life experience but teaching is not my destination in life. However, no matter how far I search for my perfect career, I feel at home the most when working with high school students. So maybe teaching isn’t the perfect solution but I know working with kids and young adults is where my true passion lies.”