By J’na Jefferson
When most people hear that they’re receiving a plane ticket to California, they think of a vacation, but for junior elementary education major Lindsey Hegenauer it’s a chance to create essential connections for her future.
From Friday, Nov. 9 to Monday, Nov. 12, Hegenauer will represent the Student New Jersey Education Association (SNJEA) at the National Education Association (NEA) Connections Convention in San Diego.
According to Hegenauer, there were nine students selected to represent New Jersey and 148 representatives in total from around the country.
The SNJEA is dedicated to advancing causes for public education in New Jersey. Hegenauer looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for education with other like-minded individuals on behalf of the state at the convention.
“This opportunity means so much to me because I will be able to demonstrate all the passion and love I have for teaching to other teachers and will be able to network with other representatives of different states,” she said.
Hegenauer was elected president of the Student Education Association (SEA) at the end of 2011. According to Hegenauer, her place in Rider’s branch of SEA contributed to her involvement with this program.
“We had direct contact with the SNJEA, which is another state organization that gives students the same benefits that full-time teachers receive,” she said.
The members of Rider’s SEA and SNJEA are given the opportunity to attend two yearly workshops to bolster members’ educational skill sets.
Hegenauer strongly advocates for student participation in both SEA and SNJEA and encourages all who hope to be teachers to become involved in the organizations.
“As an SNJEA member for the past two years, I can truly say that I have learned more than I ever thought I would through workshops and interactions with this organization,” she said. “In education classes you learn a lot of the foundations to teaching, but when you put yourself out there and join this organization you are able to really make the connection.”
Hegenauer was chosen to participate in the conference in place of senior elementary education major Sarah Sell, who was unable to attend. According to Sell, sending Hegenauer instead was a great decision.
“I have worked extensively with Lindsey in our education organizations, particularly the SEA at Rider,” Sell said. “She was my president-elect last year for the organization and I have seen her leadership grow and strengthen. She displays an excellent work ethic and impeccable drive to make a difference in the education realm. I have no doubt that she will represent SNJEA and the NJEA with dignity and pride.”
According to Sell, Hegenauer has a plethora of prospects waiting for her by being a part of the program.
“She will have chances to learn more about the efforts other college student leaders and the national student leaders are making to secure fair benefits and laws for future teachers,” she said.
Sell went on to say that Hegenauer will also get the opportunity to share her opinions and experiences with the NJEA and SNJEA leaders to provide current and pre-service teachers with a fair tenure plan, more public school positions versus privatization of education and a reasonable solution to teacher evaluations.
Junior secondary education major, SEA vice president and Hegenauer’s roommate Marcella Scalise is thrilled on behalf of her friend.
“Lindsey works very hard day in and day out and deserves to be a part of this program,” Scalise said. “I am so proud of her and I know she will excel. Her professionalism and desire to better herself for her future career as a teacher have allowed her to become successful.”