College of Education student keeps her options open
While many education majors may have a singular passion for teaching, Liza McLain's list of dreams spans across a broad range of interests and passions.
During her four years at UGA, McLain has faced several obstacles. However, her resilient nature and independent attitude have kept her going despite the constant struggle. Today, as McLain prepares to graduate from the University of Georgia College of Education with a degree in English education, she will continue exploring her interests, both related and unrelated to education.
"I'm not going into teaching right after graduation," she said. "I'm a person with several passions, and I have a hard time sticking to just one."
McLain's biggest dream is to start her own summer camp. Her experience teaching American literature at Apalachee High School in Winder, Ga., and mentoring children at the Thomas Lay Community Center in Athens has deeply influenced her decision to open the camp. Ultimately, McLain wants to combine everything she loves – the outdoors, music, her faith and helping people – into a single job.
"I want to incorporate all of my passions in the summer camp and invest in young kids," she said. "That would be a place where I can integrate the things that I've learned through the education system."
Born in Atlanta, McLain originally planned on attending the University of Montana. However, while in high school, her grandmother developed lung cancer, making UGA a more appropriate option financially. But today, McLain has developed a strong bond with her cohort and professors and views UGA as a second home.
"I cannot imagine myself anywhere else," she said. "I've found both my niche and the edges of my comfort zone, making it possible for me to feel secure and challenged."
In May 2014, McLain studied abroad in Costa Rica to fulfill her electives in English. While there, she took a creative travel writing class as well as a photo-documentary class and developed a passion for shooting videos.
"I became obsessed with movie editing, and I love playing with technology,"McLain said. "I have a broad range of interests, and there's not a lot that I don't like to do."
After graduation, McLain will head to Nashville for an internship with Well Dunn, an organization that supports the ambitions of new professionals interested in the entertainment business. After using music to connect with some of her students, she has decided to pursue a possible career in the music industry and later incorporate this passion into her summer camp.
"I'm trying to learn all of these things – I know it's really weird and bizarre and just wacko, but that's just how I've always been," she said. "I've just never been a settler, and I've always been kind of independent. I'm trying to gather up all of this information, so I can finally create an environment where all of these passions can thrive and where I can reach people."
Even while she dabbles in other fields, McLain will always keep education at the front of her mind.
"There are a lot of cool things that I can connect back to education and connect back to my passions," she said. "But I'm definitely taking a different path than most education majors."