What led you to apply to Southwestern? Before I came to SU I faced a decision to re-enlist in the Army or get out. I chose to go back to college. (I had completed a year at the University of North Texas before enlisting in the Army.) I wrote my application essays in a HMMWV (Hum-vee) out in the field. To my surprise, I was accepted!

What made you choose Southwestern? The location, class sizes, semester of support for teachers/education majors, and teaching experiences starting your freshman year all led to my decision.

What’s one suggestion you have for prospective students? Do not be shy to call your professors if they offer support. Do not hesitate to ask for help or verbalize your ideas because there is no judgment at SU, just learning.  

What would you say if you were talking to a friend about:

Visiting Southwestern? Of all the colleges I toured through the years, SU had the best tour. The tour guides are friendly and knowledgeable about the campus. I am actually still friends with my tour guide because he kept in touch to make sure I was finding everything on campus and adjusting well.

The SU culture? The SU culture is definitely unique. Although I did not live on campus, I still felt very involved and part of the SU community because of how small our population is. SU is a 100% inclusive community with the mindset of supporting one another without the burden that peer competition can sometimes bring.

What surprised you about SU? What surprised me most was the quality of education I received. I learned what was necessary for my major but also got to practice those skills enough to say I am confident in what I know and am more open minded to what I still need to learn. The amount of accountability that comes with smaller class sizes also surprised me because there is no way you can get away with not doing your homework when there are only 10 of you in the room.

What was your crowning achievement at Southwestern? My crowning achievement would be receiving the student teacher of the year award.

What will you miss most about your time at SU? I will miss the conversations, debates, group text messages about assignments, and being able to call my professors anytime I need help.

What’s one non-academic thing you learned as an SU student? I learned who I am as a person, not Specialist Golden, not Mrs. Cano, but who I am as simply Cayla. This was a long journey and I could not have accomplished so much change at a university where I could fade into the background.

What would you do differently as a Southwestern student if you could? I would have made more effort to spend time with my cohort or attend campus activities. I often fell back on the excuse that I live too far away but now wish I had more opportunities to spend time with the community, to be a better Pirate.

How has Southwestern prepared you for the future? The Education Department is amazing. I felt that I learned a wealth of best teaching techniques with the reasons behind why those techniques work but also the practice with implementing them. I am highly prepared for my future and I know that at any point my professors will still remain available for advice, support, direction, etc.