Class of 2022: Unique Norward

K-6 Elementary Education, Cato College of Education
Uplifting, Opportunities, Growth

Unique Norward

Name: Unique Norward
Hometown: Kannapolis, North Carolina
Major: K-6 Elementary Education

Why did you choose UNC Charlotte? 

Prior to attending UNC Charlotte, I would visit the campus often. I would take walks in the botanical garden and drive to the campus to look at the scenery. This was my place to gain inspiration, it was my place to go to feel happy. When I knew what I wanted to get my degree in, I knew coming to UNC Charlotte was the right choice. 

Who is your favorite professor and why? 

One of my favorite professors at the university is Dr. Erik Byker. Dr. Byker has helped me gain a global perspective and a better understanding that I am a global citizen. Dr. Byker helped me to pursue opportunities to collaborate with students in Kazakhstan by conducting a research project through UNICEF and obtaining a scholarship opportunity through AFS Intercultural programs. These experiences have helped me bring what I have learned and connections that I made into the elementary school classroom. Currently, I am conducting a virtual pen pal assignment where my second grade students are communicating and learning from primary school students in Sabah, Malaysia. If it were not for Dr. Byker, I would not have had these amazing experiences that I can now bring into the classroom so that my students can gain a global perspective. 

What are your immediate plans following graduation? 

I will continue to work at the school where I am currently a student teacher.

What excites you most about your major? 

The thing that I am most excited about in teaching is the growth I get to see in my students. I enjoy knowing that whether it is academic, social or behavioral  growth, I get to make a positive difference in my students' lives.

What was your favorite or most memorable moment outside of the classroom? 

My most memorable moment outside of the classroom is going to New York City for the Youth Assembly. It was the final day of the event and there were people from all over the world in attendance. There was a musician that began to play her guitar and perform a song. After a minute of singing, everyone in that room was on their feet singing and/or dancing along including myself. I thought it was a beautiful moment seeing people from South America, New Zealand, the Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, the U.S., the Middle East and so many more places brought together with a common goal in mind. I thought that moment was the most memorable because it was a moment of peace and serenity, and it had a big message to it now that I reminisce about it. 

If you could tweet something to your 12-year-old self, what would it be? (280 characters or less!)

There are going to be times where you feel pressured to be accepted by others. Change because you want to be a better version of yourself, never to make others like you. Don’t waste time being something you’re not, which can cause you to spend years relearning who you are.

Summarize your experience here in three words. 

Uplifting, Opportunities, Growth

Photo: Jordan G. Estabrook, University Communications