Senior Spotlight: How a Student Becomes a Teacher

Future teachers (L-R) Meredith Rupe, Max Reyes, Erika Lorenz, sitting together.
Future teachers (L-R) Meredith Rupe, Max Reyes, Erika Lorenz. Photo by Zack Berlat
April 10, 2024
Lili Cathersal ('25)

This piece is part of our Senior Stories series, in which we highlight GU students throughout the year. 

Name: Max Reyes
Studies: Secondary Education, English Literature, Leadership Studies
Hometown: Shoreline, Washington

Name: Meredith Rupe
Studies: Secondary Education, Biology, Spanish, Honors
Hometown: Lafayette, Colorado

Name: Rikky Lorenz
Studies: Elementary Education, Community Culture and Language, English Language Learning
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

These seniors would tell you that on-the-job training is the best teacher.

They are completing their teaching certification this spring student-teaching in elementary, middle and high school classrooms around Spokane under the tutelage of master teachers.

“I decided to become a teacher because I feel like my biggest passions in life include helping people and helping others learn, but also building meaningful relationships and community with others,” said Max Reyes, certifying in secondary education (middle and high school).

Reyes balances teaching with a work schedule at the Rudolf Fitness Center, vice presidential duties with the Filipino American Student Union meetings and tours as a Gonzaga ambassador, while participating in two teaching seminars in special education and career and professional development. But Reyes wouldn’t trade it.

“I am not a morning person by any means but if I can get up in time to teach students Monday through Friday, anybody interested in getting their teaching certification can do it. I’m loving it.”

Meredith Rupe, a secondary education biology major, is the only student in her cohort pursuing science education.

“I had a methods class last semester where it was just me and the professor,” said Rupe. “Sophomore year, when we taught supervised lessons at middle schools, I was the only one in a classroom by myself because I was the only science ed student."

Rupe never faltered, saying the experience gave her the confidence to know she was capable of making the transition from student to teacher.

Rupe also used her student teaching opportunities to inform her Honors senior project on artificial intelligence and its integration into education.

“I created a professional development program to aid teachers in integrating AI into their lesson and material planning for their students.”

She has high hopes for the increased use of AI in education as it saves crucial time in the development of assignments, particularly for adjusting English Language Learning (ELL) materials to a different skill level.

Rikky Lorenz, a community, culture and language major pursuing her teaching certification in elementary education, has placed a large focus of her studies on ELL.

“I got a cool opportunity to take a gap year before coming to college and I lived in Guatemala and Costa Rica,” said Lorenz, who is getting her TESOL certification to teach English abroad.

Lorenz is a third-generation teacher, student teaching in an English Language Development classroom in Linwood Elementary, while also serving as student minister in Marion Hall and a Gonzaga Outdoors trip leader.

“Helping students grow and learn and become better versions of themselves is the best part of it,” said Lorenz, a sentiment echoed by her peers.

The student teachers all experienced a moment that was a source of their motivation. For Reyes, it was building connections and relationships with her students.

“I have about 70 sixth graders that I see in my afternoons from third to sixth period and I’ve learned all their names and that’s really special to me and something that I’m really proud of,” Reyes said.

“The joy I get from being in my placement and interacting with the kids pushes me though,” said Rupe. “I had a student yesterday tell me that I was the best teacher ever and that’s just what makes it worth it.”

All three seniors are making post-grad plans.

Reyes applied for the Peace Corps and was accepted March 1; she’ll spend 27 months in the Philippines.

Rupe plans to move back to Colorado where her concentration in science education will allow her to teach chemistry, physics and biology, and had interviews booked during her spring break.

Lorenz hopes to teach English abroad and gain fluency in Spanish.

Reyes decided she wanted to teach her sophomore year at Gonzaga in a storytelling class where her instructor said, “Your true vocation in life is the intersection between the world’s needs and your deep passion.” Something clicked at that moment; she knew teaching was her true vocation.

Lorenz gained her inspiration to teach from her favorite high school teacher, John Stewart (’04), who, coincidentally, is a Gonzaga grad.

Find more great senior stories!
  • Academics
  • Careers & Outcomes
  • Service & Community Impact
  • Student Life
  • School of Education
  • English
  • Biology
  • Community, Culture & Language
  • Spanish
  • Teacher Education