As a kid in a working class household, Rachel Allgeier had an intimate look at the fortitude it takes to keep a family going. It birthed a spirit of determination in her. There were times her parents called it being hardheaded.
As an adult, Allgeier tries to use that pluck to her advantage. But, as she prepared to graduate high school, her spirit was tested.
It began with paperwork. Being a first-generation college student, she and her parents were faced with a whole new world.
The second test was more of an emotional one. Allgeier’s test scores soared, and mentors saw that special spark in her. Many influential people in her life steered her away from teaching, however. Careers with perhaps more lucrative starting paychecks, such as pharmacist, doctor, or lawyer, were tossed around.
Allgeier knew she wanted to teach. In fact, she had always known it. Yet, faced with heavy criticism from those she cared about, she caved. She would do her undergraduate studies at UK and apply to pharmacy school.
As a human nutrition major, Allgeier’s grades were on target to get into the pharmacy school of her choosing, but her spirit was crushed.
“I ultimately decided that my life’s success would not be measured by the amount of digits in my salary or the title next to my name, but rather by the lives that I impacted. In my mind, there is not greater force for positive change than a teacher,” Allgeier said.
Once again, her determination saved her – and enabled her to have an impact on the lives of countless students who will have her in class.
“I aspire to be a teacher. That might seem evident, given my course of study. However, the word ‘teacher’ to me means much more than the popular conception. A teacher, to me, is an incredibly powerful force, capable of catalyzing change. A teacher is an active, empathetic force. Teachers inspire and challenge those around them to open their minds and think critically about the world around them, discovering how they can use their own talents and passions to leave a positive impact on those around them,” Allgeier said. “My greatest role models have been my teachers who have asked me to question myself, who have challenged me to leave my comfort zone, and who have made me passionate about learning. I strive to become a teacher by investing in the lives of the students I work with and by continuing to challenge myself.”
To anyone who has met her, it is not surprising why Allgeier’s application rose to the top of the stack of the John P. and Frances Charlton Samuels Presidential Scholarship, funded by Jim and Kaye Burton, during scholarship recipient selection meetings.
The financial help was integral to her ability to continue her studies at UK. However, it meant so much more to her. Finally, she felt as though someone was supporting her dream.
“When donors give scholarships to the College of Education,” she said, “they are saying to a student: ‘We believe in you and are proud of your dedication to become the next generation of educators.”