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Class and Activities Add up for Education Major and Commuter Student

Eli Thorton white background

Eli Thornton knew he wanted to become a teacher in high school. He loved math and literature and thought he could teach either. His original plan was to pursue English in college, but one day an English teacher took him aside. “If teaching doesn’t work out, an English degree might not help,” the teacher told him, “but a Math degree would open other doors.”

Today, Eli’s a Secondary Education Mathematics major at York College of Pennsylvania. He’ll have a certification to teach math when he graduates and is pursuing another certification to teach chemistry.

While the math and science backgrounds will be there in case education doesn’t pan out, Eli is finding his professors in this area helpful.  “Education Professor Amy Glusco is really good. She teaches about professionalism and how to be a classroom teacher—what you can and can’t do,” he says. “She teaches the nitty-gritty of being a teacher.”

Jobs set up future career

Many students have jobs to help pay the bills, but Eli is managing to make his student employment fit his career plans, too. He is a math tutor in the academic support center on campus for six to eight hours a week, a mentor in some classes, and is a teaching assistant in two, 90-minute general chemistry classes a week.

“I work with students who are a bit more advanced in terms of understanding chemistry,” he says. “I do worksheets and work on problems with them.” This program is being piloted this semester to see if it can challenge advanced chemistry students with a more rigorous curriculum.

“It all keeps me on my toes. There’s never a dull moment,” Eli says of his workload. “This will help in my career, learning to juggle all of this, and perhaps being a coach or advisor to a club, and knowing when to hit the brakes when you’ve hit your limit so you don’t hurt your students and yourself. And, of course, you also want to have a personal life.”

Staying busy on campus

Eli’s also a commuter student, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t active on campus outside of the classroom. He is parliamentarian for the Student Senate and sits on the executive board for the Campus Activities Board (CAB). “The Campus Activities Board is in charge of finding entertainment for Friday and Saturday nights on campus,” Eli says. “My role is to set up bingo games. I often call the bingo, and sometimes my calling the games is the biggest draw to get people to come,” he adds.

This semester, he also worked with an outside talent agency to book comedian James Veitch, a U.K. star who made his first U.S. appearance at York College, drawing a crowd of 300. “I got in touch with the agency, they contacted Vitech’s agent, we negotiated a price, and he ended up here,” Eli recalls.

Commuters welcome

Eli says being a commuter is no drawback to being involved in multiple on-campus activities. “The weekend activities are designed for commuter and resident students alike,” he says.

He believes York College provides as good a “college experience” for commuters as for resident students. “There is nothing standing in your way to get involved other than your own willingness to put yourself out there.”

Everything—the teaching certifications, work experience, and diverse extracurricular activities—adds up to a bright future, one Eli is looking forward to when he graduates in the Spring.