Erin Gray ('08) | Teacher Education
Graduate fellow at Texas State University
and teacher for San Marcos, Texas, ISD
Watching her grandparents use the Bible to teach English to Polish students only solidified Erin Gray's desires to get her education at ACU and then become a teacher herself.
For me, ACU was a place to grow closer to God through the relationships I made and experiences I had during my four years there.
Erin was 12 when she accompanied her maternal grandparents to Poland one summer. The experience had a lasting effect.
"I will never forget how the people's eyes lit up when they understood what they were reading for the first time," Erin said. "That light, that understanding, that hope is what drove me to teach."
But even before that trip, Erin had ACU in her DNA. Her great-grandfather, G.C. Morlan, established the education department at ACU. Each year the Morlan Award is given to an outstanding education student in his honor.
Erin's paternal grandparents also were professors at ACU, and her parents and several relatives are graduates.
"I always knew that ACU was where I felt called to be," she said.
She wasn't disappointed. From professors who truly care and take part in their students' lives to campus experiences like the Ultimate Frisbee Team and Study Abroad programs, ACU has something for everyone.
"I will never forget the tears, laughter, prayers and trips that will last me a lifetime," Erin said.
Erin knew from a lifelong exposure to ACU that its graduates are sought after in the workplace. But even she may have been surprised at the opportunity she landed as a new ACU graduate last May.
Erin and two classmates, Allie Rogers and Rae Campenella, were accepted into Texas State University's Teacher Fellows Program when they graduated. Students get a stipend from the program and earn a master's degree, free of charge, from Texas State University in 15 months.
In exchange, they are the teacher-of-record in a partner school district in the San Marcos area while completing the program. Barbara Davis, director of the Teacher Fellows Program, said most of the students are Texas State University graduates and that it is rare to have three graduates of another university enrolled at the same time.
And, to hear her tell it, she wouldn't mind having more just like Allie, Rae and Erin.
"They are so well prepared and such quality young ladies," Davis said.
Erin credits her acceptance and success in the program to a project she completed at ACU. While doing her student teaching at Taylor Elementary School in Abilene, she spent six weeks conducting and implementing research. She then got to transfer what she learned into a project that she took with her to her graduate school interviews.
"I strongly believe the research I did better prepared me for graduate level work and for teaching this year," Erin said.
She admits she didn't want to be a part of the university's Honors Program because of the Capstone Project, which in education happens to be the action research project.
But Dr. Dana Hood, chair of the Department of Teacher Education, and Stephanie Talley, an instructor, insisted that Erin take on the project.
"They knew I really wanted to go straight into graduate school and they both let me know how great the experience would be," Erin said. "They were 100 percent correct."
For Erin, the wisdom and caring shown by those two professors only cemented her belief that ACU was absolutely the best choice for her.
"It is a Christ-based experience that is hard to find," she said.
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- Erin Gray ('08) Graduate Fellow at TSU
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