Transferring schools and adding education to a STEM background

Alicia Termini transferred to SPU to fulfill her dream of teaching STEM to grade school students.

As Alicia Termini was finishing her associate’s degree from Olympia College, she started contacting four-year universities to get information about transferring schools.

“I definitely wasn’t someone who was on their radar,” Termini said of the colleges she contacted. “When I called them with questions, they had to check who I was and ask me a bunch of questions before they could talk to me. It felt like such a process.”

“At SPU, they seemed to know who I was when I called, and they were very welcoming, which was really important to me,” Termini said.

Termini is not only the first in her family to attend college, she is also the first to hold a high school diploma as neither of her parents were able to complete high school.

SPU assigned an admissions counselor, an academic counselor, and a financial advisor to Termini to help answer her questions about transferring to SPU. “I didn’t realize how many resources I had available to me as I was transferring,” she said. “I was embarrassed to call, but I called them like a million times while I was applying because my parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. Google was not helpful, so I thought I’d call and ask for help because that’s exactly what someone in admissions is supposed to be there for!”

In 2021, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Termini started at SPU. She worried she wouldn’t get to know anyone while the campus was closed, and classes were held on Zoom. “Because of our small class size, you just naturally make friends. We had a lot of small group time when we had to talk amongst your peers and collaborate, which was totally different from my lecture-style community college.”

When the campus returned to in-person classes, Termini got a job working in the admissions department as well as a second job as a teacher’s assistant for Kara Gray, professor of physics.

At Olympia College, Termini had studied in the STEM fields, but most of all, she wanted to teach. “I shared that education was a secret passion of mine, but I was afraid to do that because people kept telling me not to waste my gift in STEM. When I shared my dream with my academic counselor, she enthusiastically encouraged me to pursue education and become a science teacher with my STEM background. She connected me with my faculty advisor, Dr. Gray, for further support for my plans to become a teacher.”

“Dr. Gray is the busiest woman, but she is always willing to meet with you, recommend a book, or suggest a get together. Her responsiveness made me feel so good, but that experience is not just unique to her. I’ve had a lot of professors whom I’ve just connected so well with. I took the class University Foundations with Dr. [Rick] Steele in the theology department my first quarter at SPU. I got sick one quarter, and he actually messaged me after the quarter was over and asked, ‘How are you doing?’”

Termini did her student teaching at West Woodland Elementary in 2022, and she’s excited to graduate with the class of 2023 with a major in education and a minor in biology.



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