Teaching and Learning: Liz McCabe ‘18The recent graduate is teaching an energetic group of first-grade students -- and completing her master's degree in education.
Posted on November 19th, 2018 by

Liz McCabe '18

At age 15, Liz McCabe first stepped foot into a classroom as a volunteer, unaware that she was starting on the path that would lead her to become a teacher. Now, just six months after graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College, you will find Ms. McCabe balancing her duties as a teacher of 17 energetic first graders at Sunset Terrace Elementary in Rochester, Minn., with her studies as a master’s of education student at Winona State University.

McCabe always knew that she wanted to work with kids, but was not sure in what capacity until her volunteer experience as a teenager shed light on what would become her passion. A couple of years later, it was time for Liz to begin the college search. After a friend convinced her to visit the Gustavus campus, she was hooked.  The tight-knit community made her feel right at home. With a career path in mind, the Sartell, Minn., native was ready to be a teacher and to call Gustavus home.

While she was at Gustavus, she loved being a Collegiate Fellow (CF) for two years. One of her fondest Gustie memories is ending summer break early to come back to campus for CF training, or what McCabe calls “the best summer camp for adults.” During her time in the residential life office, she learned how to take on new roles and balance being a student, teacher, role model, and confidant. When McCabe wasn’t in the classroom or reporting for duty in the residence halls, she could be found working in the advancement office or as a teaching assistant for Professor Michele Rusinko in the theatre and dance department.

McCabe considers Rusinko the most influential person during her time at Gustavus. As a first-year student, she signed up for the First-Term Seminar (FTS) class called Tell Me a Story taught by Rusinko and later took the professor’s January Interim class on resilience. “I really fell in love with her work in resiliency,” McCabe said. “She is so wise, is a great mentor, and really inspired me throughout my years at Gustavus.”

After working diligently in the education program, McCabe was on track to graduate a year early. One of her goals was to earn her master’s in education, so she researched different programs and started applying. She found the Graduate Induction Program at Winona State University’ Rochester Campus, a one-year master’s program that involved teaching her own class full time at no cost, and knew she had to apply. She was one of only 16  students accepted into this selective program.

Throughout her time in the Gustavus education program, McCabe spent an ample amount of time in the field, working in different grade levels and at different schools, helping her to feel prepared when entering the Graduate Induction Program. “The Gustavus education program is great,” said McCabe. “I had a ton of field experience and I believe that you don’t become a good teacher through studying teaching, you become a good teacher through doing and practicing.”

Looking ahead, McCabe is excited to graduate with her master’s of science in education in July of 2019 at the age of 22. She attributes her success to hard work and a little bit of luck. McCabe is looking forward to continuing her career as an educator.

“Ever since I was 15, my favorite thing about teaching is seeing the students’ light bulb moment and witnessing the flash of pride on their faces,” said McCabe.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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