Ohio Wesleyan student Alex Emerson is working with the REACH program this summer. He is helping to teach academically talented African American middle-school young men at University School in northeast Ohio. (Photo courtesy of Alex Emerson)

Passion Within REACH

Summer Internship Inspires Ohio Wesleyan Student to Explore Teaching Career

By Cole Hatcher

Name: Alex Emerson ’21
Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Major: Journalism
OWU Connection experience: REACH program internship at University School in Shaker Heights

Emerson is completing a summer internship working with the REACH program, an enrichment program for academically talented African American middle school young men and college undergraduates. His internship is part of the Summer on the Cuyahoga program, and his mentor is Terry Lipford II, REACH program director.

Emerson’s job duties include creating and teaching an elective course for two classes of 12 boys, grades 6-8, supervising extracurricular activities, chaperoning field trips, and other general teaching duties.

My Favorite Moment

“My favorite moment was the student-versus-teacher basketball game. I’m 6-foot-6, so it was fun to defend. What was really special about that day, though, was the energy in the gym.

“All of the faculty and students got along really well together. Everyone was engaged and shouting their guts out and being supportive of their classmates. It’s a really special group of people.

“In general, my favorite part of this program is getting to know the students. They’re so funny and nice and smart. They make me feel like I wouldn’t mind teaching for a long time, despite how frustrating it is.”

How I’ve Used My OWU Education During My Internship

“I’ve learned so many things from OWU that are helpful because a lot of my job is copying the techniques, activities, and classroom demeanor of the professors that I look up to.

“One professor that comes to mind is Dr. (Martin) Hipsky. He taught my Intro to Film class. ... I learned cinematography essentials from him and borrowed the structure of his lessons to teach these concepts.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I chose OWU because I loved the campus when I visited. It reminded me of Chagrin Falls where I grew up. Also I liked the liberal arts aspect and it was close to home, but not too close.”

My Plans After Graduation

“As far as my future plans, I started this internship thinking that I wanted my future to be in writing for a news outlet or something like that, but after spending some time teaching I caught the bug. I now can see myself having a career in teaching.

“It’s a great feeling when you can tell that you helped a kid develop a passion of theirs. … I still haven’t committed to that idea yet, but I intend to research a career in teaching in the coming year.”