Christina Santiago loves a challenge. Growing up, she struggled with math, so when it came to choosing an undergraduate research topic, the aspiring teacher picked fractions.

“I always like to approach things I’m intimidated by so I can grow,” said Santiago, who will be graduating on Friday with a bachelor of science in elementary education and special education dual major. “As a teacher, I can’t always be intimidated by fractions. I have to learn how to understand so I can effectively teach students.”

Since she transferred to UNC Greensboro from community college, Santiago has taken that growth mindset into everything she does – whether serving as an honors ambassador for the Lloyd International Honors College, as a maker in residence for the SELF Design Studio,  volunteering for campus events through the Office of Leadership and Service-Learning or student teaching in Davidson County.

Learn more about Santiago, her time as an intern at the Shanghai Experimental School in China and how she feels about graduation, in the interview and video below.

Why did you choose UNCG?

I decided to go to UNCG at first because I knew I wanted to go to the teaching program, and I knew UNCG had one of the best education programs. When I came to tour the campus, I fell in love with it. It was full of diversity. Everyone on campus was so friendly and welcoming. It just felt like home.

What about teaching energizes you?

I love teaching anything. I prefer it more when I can make the concept – regardless of the subject, as engaging as possible. To me, it’s more about how I like teaching rather than what I like teaching. I like to teach engaging lessons regardless of what it is. I like trying to think outside the box.

Why is the SELF Design Studio (Maker Space) your favorite place on campus?

The Maker Space is a studio for teacher candidates. It offers resources that allow teachers to make lessons a lot more engaging. The Maker Space is my favorite place because I’m not a techie. But when I started volunteering in the Maker Space, I found myself thinking outside the box. Because of the Maker Space, I feel like every semester my lessons are a little more engaging. Everyone is so welcoming there, and so creative. It’s just that peaceful space and environment in there.

What is your greatest accomplishment at UNCG?

My greatest accomplishment at UNCG is learning how to build meaningful relationships and learning effective communication skills. Despite anything else I’ve accomplished at the university, I feel like that is really what has impacted who I am today. Because of the relationships that I’ve learned how to build and maintain, that has led to other accomplishments.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to teach in the Davidson County/Lexington area for the 2018-2019 school year. I have a desire to give back to the community that helped raise me. I also plan to work towards earning my master’s degree through the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program here at UNCG.

Interview by Elizabeth L. Harrison, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications