Hawk’s Eye View: Madchen Lastinger ’22


Education Building atrium bridge showing quote, "Nothing works unless you do.' Maya Angelou

Madchen Lastinger ’22 decided on a career related to education pretty early in life. As a middle schooler, she volunteered in a local elementary school helping a special education teacher. A few years later, she joined the Future Teacher Career Academy – a unique partnership between the UNCW and Isaac Bear Early College to inspire and prepare aspiring educators. Today, she’s a junior in the Watson College with plans to teach in New Hanover County Schools with a specialization in behavior support.

In this Hawk’s Eye View, Madchen shares how her varied experiences in the Watson College – plus the experience of learning to teach in a pandemic – have influenced her plans for the future.

Madchen Lastinger

Virtual teaching can be really confusing if you’ve never worked with a student like that before, but the (EdLab faculty) make sure you feel confident in what you're doing.

— Madchen Lastinger ’22, education major

What’s your favorite place on campus? 

I like being outside anywhere on campus, but there’s an area right by Fisher (Student Center) where the pond is, I love that spot. When we first started Zoom classes, that’s where I’d hang out. It’s nice seeing everyone walking around and working in a peaceful environment. 

Who are the UNCW faculty or staff who’ve made a big impact on you?

Probably (Betty Holden Stike Education Laboratory Director) Dr. (Brian) Brinkley the most, because I’ve known him the longest. He’s been there to always push me forward. He’s always been supportive in everything I do. Another one is Dr. (Alex) Chambers. I like the way he talks about special education and the way he approaches it. He also focuses a lot on data analysis – that’s something I didn’t think much about before. When you talk about collecting data on students in education, it’s something that can make a difference not only in a teacher’s career but also in your students’ experiences.

How has your UNCW experience been unlike any other you may have had elsewhere?

Everything has been weird because of COVID. Last semester, I worked with the Ed Lab. Even though we couldn’t go onto campus to the actual Ed Lab, we were connected with a student to work with them one-on-one for a few months. Virtual teaching can be really confusing if you’ve never worked with a student like that before, but the (Ed Lab faculty) make sure you feel confident in what you're doing. They were there to support and guide you through everything and meet one-on-one if you needed to.

The Watson College and Dr. Brinkley also connected me with a job tutoring at D.C. Virgo (Preparatory Academy). I started there last semester, and I was able to come back this spring and do even more with the students. I do intervention work with the kids, which has been a great chance to put what I’m learning in class into practice there. I am tutoring in person now – there are some kids who are still virtual, but it’s been a great experience both ways.

How has your experience in the Watson College and at UNCW changed or enhanced your career plans?

Originally, I didn’t plan on doing applied behavior analysis (as a minor) but the more I’ve taken courses, especially in the special education department, the more I realized it’s something I wanted to do. I’d like to do intense behavior support or intense academic support, but I’d like to stick at the elementary level, working with students who need a little extra support to stay in their regular classrooms.

Why is it important for donors to continue supporting students like you at UNCW through scholarships and applied learning opportunities?

It was very important to me because those donations really were what let me learn. My family didn’t have a lot of money, so I had to apply for a lot of scholarships and all the financial aid I could. Donations will help other students like me who need that support to learn what they want to do and make an impact however it is they choose to do it.

Increasing support for scholarships and applied learning opportunities is a top priority of Like No Other: The Campaign for UNCW. Learn how you can get involved or make a gift today.

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