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1st class of UVSC teachers

Angeli Anderson looks forward to starting a lifelong career watching 6-year-old children learn to read books, memorize numbers, color pictures and share toys.

"There's a million success stories every day," said Anderson, who wants to be a first-grade teacher. "Even if it is just calling me teacher or coming to me for help. There is something new every day."Anderson has commuted from Bluffdale to Utah Valley State College since 1995 to complete her training as a prospective elementary school teacher. She completed her student teaching this year at Sego Lily Elementary School in Lehi.

"I've always been interested in education," said the 21-year-old, who is a trained violinist. "I had to decide between teaching and music. Hopefully, I'll be able to blend one with the other."

Anderson, as valedictorian of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Studies, will join 30 others at Friday's commencement to receive the first four-year teaching degrees from UVSC. Convocation ceremonies will be at noon in the David O. McKay Events Center.

Utah Valley administrators convinced the Utah State Board of Regents in 1996 there was a need for an education degree at the Orem school. Students at UVSC had been taking education courses for five years through an intercollegiate agreement with Weber State University.

UVSC now offers bachelor's degrees only in business, technology and hospitality management, elementary education, computer science and information services. Regents last week allowed the school to start offering a four-year integrated science degree next year.

Melanie Nelson always wanted to be a teacher. A stint as an elementary school teacher's aid while a student at Orem High School solidified her desire to be in front of a classroom.

"Student teaching was a great experience," said Nelson, who finished her classroom training at Orem Elementary School earlier this month. "Probably learning about classroom discipline is the hardest part. That's something you have to learn first-hand."

Interest in obtaining an education degree increases each year. This year, some 105 students vied for the 30 available slots for next year's classes in elementary education, said Loralee Davenport, an academic adviser for students in the program.

"Actually, we have about 600 pre-elementary education students," said Dean J.D. Davidson. "Then we whittle it down to the 30 we can accept in the program."

Competition between students can be fierce. To be accepted into the program, students must have a 3.0 grade-point average, completed an associate degree in elementary education and have a 20 ACT score. Applicants are invited to an interview if they meet minimum requirements.

"They must really know they want to do the education program," Davidson said.

Regents mandated a 30-student cap in the program for the first three years to gauge the demand and efficiency of the program. A handful of job offers have already been extended to UVSC students, Davenport said.

"They are hired in Utah for the most part," Davidson said. "Last I heard, three of our students have already been hired in the Utah Valley."