Sofia Vandersluis, Elementary Education and Educational Policy Studies

Sofia Vandersluis HeadshotWhere are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?

The “where are you from” is always a little complicated. I grew up in a military family, so we moved every couple of years. I usually label Pacific Grove, California, as “home” because it was where we were stationed the longest. My family is currently in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

I came to UW–Madison for a few reasons, the main one being the School of Education. I am an academically minded person and wanted to go to a school that applied that mindset to its teacher education program. In addition, I wanted to invest in a college that would work to make me a better teacher through the classes I would take and the people in those classes.

Because of Madison’s high national ranking in education, I felt secure that my time at the university would lead me to be a competent teacher. The other big reason I picked Madison is more social. I wanted to go to a BIG school with plenty of offerings and clubs to establish Madison as my community. Madison has not fallen short. I am a member of multiple clubs and student groups. The people I have met in those organizations are what has made Madison feel like home.

What is your major? How did you choose it?

I am dual majoring in elementary education (middle childhood education with ESL certification) and educational policy studies, with a certificate in leadership and a minor in social studies. I always knew I wanted to go into teaching. I wanted my post-graduation career to be centered around kindness, and education fits that. I really like education because it is an investment in one’s self and the community.

What do you love about UW–Madison?

Everything! This past summer, I worked as a new student leader for SOAR and fell back in love with Madison. What I love most about UW–Madison is the people. From my close friends to TAs to job supervisors, everyone here wants you to succeed. It is a great place to live and learn. My favorite thing to do is get a milkshake from Mooyah (Oreo is phenomenal) and walk over to James Madison Park with my friend and talk about any and everything.

"What I love most about UW–Madison is the people. From my close friends to TAs to job supervisors, everyone here wants you to succeed. It is a great place to live and learn."

Sofia Vandersluis on vacation

What are you most looking forward to this semester?

I am looking most forward to making memories with my friends. After the pandemic school year, I am so excited to do everything. I am by no means a die-hard sports fan, but I will be at every gameday! I am happy to enjoy being a student again.

What did you learn from the pandemic? Is there a lesson or experience you had that will stay with you in years to come?

I learned a lot from the pandemic. The most important lesson I learned is the importance of family. I am fortunate to have the smartest, most competent, and kind parents in the world, but I definitely took them for granted growing up. This past year with the variability, innate issues of being 20, and overall confusion, they were my rock, and I would not be where I am today if not for them.

What are your future (career or other) goals?

In a perfect world, I will graduate from UW–Madison and go work for DODEA. DODEA is the public school system situated on military bases. Growing up as a military kid is a unique upbringing that has a lot of positives and some negatives. A lot goes on behind the scenes in military families, and the kids do not really understand a lot of it. I would love to be the source of stability for them that my family and teachers were to me growing up. Likewise, DODEA would allow me to live abroad, so that is a nice perk.

Looking far into the future, I want to go back to school to get a master’s in administration and become a principal one day.

What is one UW–Madison experience every student should have?

I think no Wisconsin Experience is complete without having a scoop of Babcock ice cream on the Terrace with friends. It is as quintessential “Wisconsin Student” as it gets.

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