Kingston Springs, Tenn.
Riley Rich wants to be influential in the lives of children, both in the United States and internationally.
The sophomore from Kingston Springs is majoring in both English and history and hopes to obtain her teaching certifications soon after graduation. But she is aiming a bit beyond the boundaries of the American school system; she wants to teach in Italy.
“I’d like to move to Italy and either teach children living on American military bases, or teach Italian children to speak English,” said Rich, who fell in love with Italian culture during a 10-day summer trip in 2012, a belated graduation gift from her parents.
Rich, who grew up in a small town, felt an instant connection when she first toured the UT Martin campus as a high school junior. She “just knew” UT Martin was the place for her. Since that time, she has made countless friendships, developed relationships with her most influential professors, gotten involved in student government and Greek life, and become part of the University Scholars Program.
Rich said her classes not only teach her to think independently, but also encourage her to learn from the viewpoints of others.
“I’m not the smartest person in the room, so discussion is awesome for me, and a lot of the teachers I’ve had have really encouraged discussion in the classroom,” she said. “They (the professors) will expand the ideas that we’re talking about in the classroom to real-world settings and make them relatable.”
In addition to her regular coursework, Rich is also a University Scholar, the highest academic honor given at UT Martin, and is an active part of that organization. She serves as co-editor of the program’s publication, “The Scholar,” and holds a position on the program’s executive council.
One of the components of the University Scholars Program is the completion of a two-year independent research project under the mentorship of a UT Martin faculty member. While Rich will not officially begin work on her project until the fall of 2013, she is already excited about her idea.
“My main plan is to go to Russia for a week or so and study the historical sites surrounding the fall of the last Czar … essentially the Anastasia story. Then after I get back to the U.S., I want to begin writing a work of historical fiction based on that time period,” Rich explained. Her project destination depends heavily upon available funding, and her second and third choices are Rome and London, respectively.