Maya Garrett’s first career dream — in the eighth grade — was to become a doctor. Investigating universities with strong pre-med programs, she came across Baylor University pretty quickly.
But after working in a hospital surgical ward, “I realized that was not the environment or life that I wanted,” Maya said. Even though she had a deep desire to help others as her lifelong calling, she could see that doctors rarely have long-term interaction with their patients, and that connection was something she wanted.
The idea of becoming a teacher had always been there also, since she enjoyed working with kids at summer camps. As is often the case, Maya found inspiration in one of her own teachers.
“My calculus teacher always believed in me, and that made the difference,” Maya said. “She kept telling me, ‘You’re a great student, and you’re doing so well,’” Maya said. “I was really hard on myself, but she gave me that encouragement.”
When she visited Baylor for the first time as a senior, Maya attended a School of Education event, visiting a Professional Development School campus and spending time on the Baylor campus with current students and faculty. She found out that, in addition to its pre-med programs, Baylor has an excellent teacher preparation program.
“I really like the community environment at Baylor,” she said. “I had been taking college tours since I was a freshman in high school, and I never felt that community at other schools. I knew I could really succeed with that kind of support.”
Support also came through scholarships that made her degree in secondary mathematics education possible. Maya received a merit-based scholarship from Baylor and pursued departmental scholarships from the School of Education and the Math Department. She receives the Lois Weatherall Endowed Scholarship from the SOE.
“I don’t see how I could have come to Baylor without scholarships,” she said. “I wish I had applied earlier for departmental scholarships, and that’s what I would advise incoming students.”
Maya felt supported in the SOE from the start. As a first-year student, she got to teach at Cesar Chavez Middle School, assisted as needed by Baylor faculty on site. “It was my first teaching class, and it really let me know that this was what I wanted to do for four years and beyond,” she said. “It’s great that Baylor gives you that experience so early.”
Maya is also a member of Baylor Chamber of Commerce and serves as treasurer. When Maya learned about the group’s focus on service, she thought, “yes, this is the place for me.”
Well before graduation, Maya had a job offer in hand to teach high school math in her hometown of Pflugerville, and she feels fully prepared. As a student teacher at University High School, she experienced a full academic year in the classroom to learn important lessons.
“We learn about classroom management in our courses, but reading about it and actually applying it in real time are different,” she said. “The students respond if you’ve built a good relationship with them, and that’s something I’ve learned in my internship.”
Maya plans to teach for several years, paying off some student loans, and then she hopes to pursue a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate.