KINGSTON, R.I.- May 7, 2008- From being a part of the University of Rhode Island cheerleading team her freshman year, the Talent Development program and a sister of Alpha Phi, Shana Leffingwell has benefited from her many campus activities.
But before Leffingwell ever arrived on campus she was enrolled in Talent Development, which helped open doors for her as she made the transition to higher education. Talent Development was begun in 1968 specifically to help young people who otherwise could not attend the University of Rhode Island. The success of Talent Development lies in its students who have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, educators, business people, and engineers.
“Talent Development has played a major role with my success here at URI,” Leffingwell said. “TD was always there for me when I needed help with academic stress and even to talk about every day problems or successes.”
Leffingwell said that because the program also provided major financial aide she worked hard in her classes to show the staff at TD that she was truly benefiting from the program.
“Being a part of the TD program has been such a wonderful experience for me, and I greatly appreciate everything they have done and given me,” she said.
Outside of Talent Development, Leffingwell has helped countless students, parents and staff with everything from directions to bus schedules as a student worker at the URI information desk in the Memorial Union.
The senior from Bristol is graduating May 18th with a double major in art and psychology. She has been on the Dean’s List several times.
Leffingwell originally planned to pursue the field of art therapy, and that’s why she combined art and psychology. But as time passed she realized there were more opportunities if she became an art teacher.
Leffingwell completed an internship at the First Step program at Independence Square, on the Kingston Campus, where she assisted in teaching preschoolers.
“The First Step program has made me realize my love for teaching. I knew I wanted to teach, but it wasn’t until I actually had the chance to do my own lesson plans and watch kids learn from what I taught them that really made me strive to be a teacher,” said Leffingwell.
Leffingwell said several professors stand out as being particularly helpful during her four years. William Klenk, Shana’s art professor was one of “her greatest influences as an art major.”
She has enjoyed many of her classes at URI, but one of her favorites was psychology of learning with Dr. Kathy Guglielmi Peno. “Kathy was by far the best teacher I have ever had, and her class made me realize that teaching could actually be the ideal profession for me,” said Leffingwell.
Guglielmi Peno said Leffingwell remains one of the most enthusiastic students she has ever had. “Based upon her clear passion for teaching, her grasp of the learning theories and her connection with student development (based upon the fantastic student narrative and lesson plans she submitted) and her wonderful personality, I can only project that Shana will be an amazing teacher,” said the professor.
Next fall, she will be taking the semester off to student teach and build her portfolio, she will apply for her master’s in teaching art education at Rhode Island College. “Student teaching will help me get my foot in the door and gain experience teaching within a high school setting,” said Leffingwell.
Art display: Youngsters at the First Step program at Independence Square at the URI Kingston campus display their artwork with URI graduating senior, Shan Leffingwell. URI Communications and Marketing photo by Michael Salerno.