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A Major Reboot

Nick McQueen sitting on a desk in classroom

Education students leaves computer science to meet kids where they are 

by Marc Stevens 

Sometimes you find something you didn’t know you were looking for. That’s what happened to Nick McQueen (’22), an elementary education major at Westminster College. Nick’s first love wasn’t classrooms. It was computers. As a 12-year-old growing up in suburban Salt Lake City, he took computers apart and rebuilt them. A year later he knew the basics of HTML, CSS, and Java. When it came time for college, he embarked on the obvious path: majoring in computer science. Before long, though, something didn’t feel right.

“One year passed, and I knew I was losing interest in computer science,” Nick says. He took different jobs, trying to find something that stuck. During that time, he got to know the families in his neighborhood and realized how rewarding it was to interact and work with children. “Taking care of kids seemed natural for me,” he says. “When they have high energy and want to play, I love being able to match their energy and challenge them to grow.” Nick also identified an opportunity to help kids work through their feelings.

“Helping students with emotional needs is rewarding because it has a lifelong impact on the children and will help them succeed in the future,” Nick says. “Teaching children is rewarding for the same reason.” 

Motivated by the satisfaction of children’s success, Nick left the lucrative field of computer science and began working at a daycare while researching elementary education as a career. “When I teach children, they tend to walk away with more confidence and understanding,” Nick says. “Seeing these children so happy for their own progress makes me happy because it makes me feel as though I was successful in helping them.”  

Nick found the support and resources he needed to pivot from computer science through Westminster’s School of Education. Thanks to an associate’s degree he’d already earned, his advisor created a two-year graduation plan for a BA in elementary education with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). 

 After graduating, Nick plans to explore new approaches to public education. He sees opportunities to integrate counseling strategies, especially when it comes to teaching children with trauma. “Teachers need to think from a perspective of ‘What has happened to you, and how can I help you?’ rather than ‘What is wrong with you, and why are you like this?’” Nick says. “I also believe that if a child is ever hurting emotionally, a teacher should be well equipped to talk to the student.”

 The desire to meet students where they are, help them find their voices, and instill a love of learning came alive when Nick’s education took an unexpected turn. Now it’s what motivates him as an educator.

“My most significant goal is to be the best teacher that I can be for each individual child in my class,” Nick says. “Like Westminster College, I don’t intend to let a single student sit in the back of the classroom and not get noticed.”

 

 


About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.

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