May Wheeler's passion for education is evident in her pursuit for knowledge and her desire to be a teacher.
Wheeler attended Madison Academic High School in Jackson, where for three years she participated in the school's lauded Academic Decathlon team. "It was my life for three years, " Wheeler said of her experience on the AD team, which paid off as she earned gold medals in art and literature in the national competition.
Wheeler was destined to be a University Scholar at UT Martin. As she began her college search, she specifically wanted to find a strong honors program in which to immerse herself throughout her experience. She quickly learned that UTM's honors program was where she felt the most at home.
"I was looking around to join honors programs. I went to the University Scholars Prospect Weekend, and I absolutely loved it. The people here were so nice and so friendly, and I just felt at home with them," Wheeler said.
She continued, "I felt like they were an extension of my AD family back in high school, and that type of feeling is really important to me. So after our interviews, I told my mom, "I don't care if I don't get the scholarship, I want to come to this school because it's awesome. Then, I got the scholarship, so that was even better!"
Now, a sophomore at UT Martin, Wheeler is looking ahead. She plans to take her love of learning into her future career. As an integrated studies major, Wheeler is finding opportunities to practice her teaching skills. Specifically, Wheeler became a PEP leader, a mentorship position that helps guide students through their first semester of college.
Wheeler said, "I wanted to be a PEP leader primarily because I wanted more experience and it's a lot like teaching. I wanted that experience, and it's a lot of fun to get to meet the new people." She continued, "I can go practically anywhere on campus and see someone I know whether they're a scholar or someone in my sorority or one of my PEP kids."
It should come as no surprise that Wheeler was awarded the Lauren Witty scholarship for outstanding PEP leadership. Wheeler is determined to get to know her students and help prepare them for their college experience, and she sets an excellent example of what it takes to be a mentor.
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