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College of Education senior explains how Latin solidified her future

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Kudos

If it wasn't for Melissa Greer's high school Latin teacher, she may not be graduating this May with three degrees from the University of Georgia College of Education.

Initially, Greer – who was ranked no. 2 in her high school class – had planned on taking Spanish, but a close teacher convinced her to take Latin instead. Not one to back down from a challenge, Greer agreed and has never looked back.

"My teacher said that I'm the kind of person who needs Latin because I was doing the bare minimum and still doing better than everyone else," Greer said. "So because of that, I decided to take it, and it was the best decision I've ever made."

This spring, Greer will graduate magna cum laude with honors distinction with a B.S.Ed. in Latin, a B.A. in Latin and a B.A. in Classical Culture. After graduation, she will teach Latin at the Newton College and Career Academy in her hometown of Covington, Ga.

"I can't wait to start my teaching career in the fall and help students to not only learn and appreciate Latin and the ancient cultures, but also to help tomorrow's adults decide who they are and what they want to be in the world," she said. "I am also super excited because I get to basically build a brand new program, so the possibilities are endless!"

Choosing to attend UGA was a simple decision for Greer. As her high school's salutatorian, she was awarded the Zell Miller Scholarship to assist with her educational costs. She also met with a faculty member in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' Classics Department before starting her freshman year, which solidified her interest in attending the university.

During her four years at UGA, Greer has been involved in several activities outside of her college classes that reflect her passion for Latin.

She is the president of UGA's Zeta Iota chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the National Classics Honor Society. While student teaching, she organized and hosted the first Undergraduate Classics Research Conference. Her dedication to fostering the study of Latin in young students is also reflected in her involvement with the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League.

Greer recently finished her student teaching at Dacula High School and said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"Student teaching really helped me realize that teaching is what I need to do," Greer said. "I've been less stressed this semester than any other semester in college, and I've had a lot of fun."

While she is extremely dedicated to her studies, Greer also enjoys winding down with her friends and watching Netflix. Her greatest memories at UGA are playing in the fountain at Herty Field and studying abroad in Rome.

In 2013, Greer had the opportunity to visit Pompeii for a weekend as well as the National Archeological Museum of Naples to fulfill her studies in classical culture and Latin.

"Seeing everything I've studied in books in person was so awe-inspiring," she said.

One memory Greer will continue to cherish after graduation is the close bond she developed with her cohort and professors. Going to class everyday felt more like hanging out and having a conversation than attending a standard lecture, she said.

Greer will be the first person in her immediate family to receive a four-year college degree. While she will continue teaching in a classroom setting indefinitely, her passion for Latin may lead to an advanced degree in the future.

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602