Miriam Kopelow- A Journey to Campus

Miriam Kopelow with her parents

Miriam Kopelow, Catherine V. and Virginia E. Tenuta Scholarship recipient, with her parents.

The combination of a bustling, energetic campus with an opportunity to pursue teaching was an irresistible combination. Not to mention I visited on one of those glorious, sunny, warm day in Madison. How can you beat that?!

My journey is unique in that my family is Canadian, but we moved to the U.S. in the mid-1990s. The college search process for my parents was more focused on the best bus to take to the provincial university in town. For their American neighbors, this process consisted of narrowing down a preferable size, location, field and dorm just as it is for many American students today. Although I had two older siblings, we went into this process rather blindly. This allowed me to explore with an open mind and find a school that has absolutely changed my life. I have no regrets about UW-Madison and feel so fortunate I have had the opportunity to find a place for me.

I love the Memorial Union Terrace on a sunny day, especially the picnic benches right by the water. Although an incredibly popular spot in Madison, I know I can only go here when I have done all my work, have no meetings to get to and can have some time for myself. Whether it be reading, chatting, listening to music, it is my way of patting myself on the back and enjoying the view.

In my sophomore year, I participated in a powerful social justice seminar called Student SEED. When I began my education courses a few year later, I saw a need for deep discussions on identity and equality in the School of Education. As opposed to sitting back, I took action. With my colleagues by my side, I approached the faculty of the School of Education, presented my idea for a Student SEED seminar in the SoE. It was approved and this past spring I was the youngest of 6 facilitators for future educators. Having this idea and seeing it through from start to finish is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I learned so much from my colleagues, my peers in the SoE who participated in the seminar and from the process as a whole. It was really something.

I am inspired by my Social Studies methods instructor, PhD candidate Katy Swalwell. She really did inspire me not only in the skills of teaching Social Studies, but in teaching while being true to yourself. She is honest, fun, in-tune with the world, passionate about things, and committed to education. I do not want to be her. She inspires me to be me.
I love to do things that make me feel alive. My two avenues of doing this at the moment are West African Dance and Social Justice work. Both things are so stimulating to my brain and my body in ways that I rarely experience anywhere else.

I hope to make a difference. I hope to host classrooms where kids feel empowered and excited. I have yet to figure out where, but somewhere full of energy and laughter.

This scholarship has shown me that someone believes in me. I come from a family that supports me in all I do, but having recognition from the world of education is especially empowering. I thank you deeply for that. Thank you for believing in the power of educators and allowing us to go further. It is truly amazing.