Natalie Marshall and Jane Reid are senior Human Development and Family Science Education majors. When they graduate May 13, they will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education.
The pair have grown close and bonded over their similarities. From choosing Samford as their place of study and Human Development and Family Science as their major, to both girls have accepting positions with Teach for America, it is easy to see the special bond they share.
When it was time to look at colleges, Reid and her father rented a car and visited schools in multiple states. “It rained the entire 17-hour drive to the first university and the rain continued the entire drive to Alabama,” said Reid. “When we pulled through the front gates of Samford, the rain stopped and the clouds parted.” Reid said she took a tour of campus and immediately knew Samford was the place she wanted to call home for the next four years.
Marshall’s experience was similar. “My family decided to schedule a trip to visit but I honestly had my sights set somewhere else,” said Marshall. That changed when she arrived on campus. “I believe you can tell a lot about someone by the way they pray,” said Marshall, “When President Westmoreland opened visitation day in prayer, I remember looking at my parents and we all said ‘this place is special, it’s different here.’” At that moment, she decided Samford was the right place for her.
Both girls said they feel the experiences they had during their college years were special and not something other institutions offer. “I can’t tell you how many professors' homes I have been welcomed into for a soup or taco night,” said Marshall. “My professors were so supportive and invested in me both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Reid is a small group leader for Samford Home Groups, an organization that places groups in an alumni or faculty member’s home for dinner and devotion. “Every Monday night this past year our group met at Philip Poole’s home and he and his wife fed me and 11 freshmen girls so that we could fellowship and dive into the Word of God,” said Reid, “I don’t think that is something you get at every institution.” Philip Poole serves as the Executive Director of University Communication.
Both girls chose Human Development and Family Science as their major because they knew they wanted to serve others. That passion became stronger as they moved through their courses. They believe that was caused by the passion their professors brought to their instruction.
“When I was taking Families and Health we had an assignment to write a paper on someone in our family that suffered from an illness,” said Reid. The assignment was to study the illness and the way it influences different family types. Reid chose her grandfather who suffered from leukemia. Through her research, Reid learned about the donation program Be the Match and registered as a donor.
Reid was matched with someone in need of a bone marrow transplant so she traveled out of state and underwent an eight-hour peripheral blood stem cell donation. “I had injections that made my stem cells come out of my bone marrow,” said Reid. “they pumped my blood out through my left arm cycled through it and pumped it back in my right arm.” Reid said they cycled through her blood four times.
“Our classes have truly shaped the way that we view the world and have taught us that helping people is a privilege,” said Reid, “I look at my donation experience and my placement with Teach for America as an opportunity but also my duty.”
Teach for America is an organization that places teachers in low-income classrooms. The organization seeks to help participants become teachers who can dramatically expand students’ opportunities.
According to Teach for America, children who grow up in extreme poverty are half as likely to graduate from high school and one-tenth as likely to graduate from college, as compared to students from the most affluent communities. Marshall and Reid have accepted positions with Teach for America because they believe this does not have to be the case.
“Students that fall under these statistics have the potential for more and we can help by providing solutions,” said Marshall. This past year, Marshall served as a tutor at Restoration Academy, an organization that works to provide a Christ-centered education. “It was an honor to work alongside those students,” said Marshall.
Both girls feel that their Human Development and Family Science classes have equipped them with the tools they need to make an impact through Teach for America. “When we work with these students, we will be able to view through the lenses of psychology, sociology and child development,” said Reid.
“I think our education will help us understand where the kids are coming from,” said Marshall, “there can be multiple reasons that cause a child to act out inappropriately and because of our education background we have been exposed to many of the possible triggers.” She believes this will help them meet students’ needs in the best way possible.
Marshall has been placed at a school in Nashville, Tennessee and Reid has been placed in Charlotte, North Carolina within the same school system she grew up in. “I want to use grace and love to create a culture of accountability and expectation,” said Reid.
When the girls chose Human Development and Family Science as their major neither of them thought they wanted to become teachers but they both knew they wanted to work alongside people and serve others.
“I don’t know what the future holds for my career, but I do know that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to right now,” said Reid. She described it as a blind following. “I am trusting in the Lord because he has opened every door for me so far, and the ones he hasn’t opened he has opened others.”
Marshall says she isn’t sure what her career looks like either. “It depends on where the Lord leads,” said Marshall, “I may continue teaching or I may end up in social work, counseling, educational administration or I may go to law school. The only thing I know is this is where I am supposed to be right now.”
During Reid’s time at Samford, she was a member of Chi Omega sorority, a Departmental Delegate of the National Council for Family Relations, a Samford Home Groups leader and on the Step Sing Committee. “I have cried multiple times this week because I don’t want to leave,” said Reid, “I am so excited for the next chapter but I will miss Samford deeply.” She hopes the bonds and friendships she has made at Samford will last a very long time.
Over the past three years, Marshall served the Samford community through tutoring, National Council for Family Relations’ Vice President, Mock Trial and as a resident assistant for Residence Life. Additionally, she was the recipient of the Sizemore Award, an award given annually to the student in the graduating class who best demonstrates character, personality, scholarship and unselfish service to Samford. “I love that I can reflect back and tell students who are considering coming to Samford that everything I experienced during that first visitation weekend was a true reflection of my entire experience at Samford University,” said Marshall.