Goodwin Valedictorian Dena Booker Continues to Learn as She Teaches
To future Goodwin College grad Dena Booker, there are few things as wonderful as seeing one of her youngsters make a new learning discovery.
“Children are so excited when they learn something new,” says Booker. “They’re so proud and excited, and they want to share it with everyone.”
Even as she has been inspiring her students, Booker has been immersed in her own learning, often sacrificing time out with friends in pursuit of her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Study. But, as the 2013 valedictorian can now attest, it was time well spent.
On Thursday, June 6, Booker will be one of 30 students to receive a baccalaureate degree at the Goodwin College Commencement Ceremony. As valedictorian, she has the honor, as nerve-racking as it might be, of addressing the graduates, their families, and the Goodwin faculty and staff.
“I’ve learned so much as a professional because of what I’ve learned at Goodwin,” says Booker, who balances school with her duties as head teacher at the Paraiso Infantil Preschool in Hartford, where she was formerly a literacy assistant.
A 2003 graduate of Windsor High School, Booker has spent much of the last decade immersed in higher education. Initially, she wanted to be a high school guidance counselor and headed to Greensboro College in North Carolina.
She transferred to Central Connecticut State University, where she commuted to class from home. In 2007, she graduated with a degree in Psychology.
Her professional ambitions began to change when she got a job at a preschool, where she found inspiration in her students.
“I realized this is something that I really enjoy doing,” Booker says.
Upon the advice of colleagues, she enrolled at Goodwin College in the baccalaureate program in Child Study. Though she had already obtained one degree, she says her experience at Goodwin was different because it was more focused. As undergrad just out of high school, she was still trying to decide what she wanted to pursue. At Goodwin, she had already realized her ambition and was ready to make it a reality.
Lori Blake, director of the Child Study Program, says that Booker has many attributes that lend themselves to building great relationships with children. Among them are Booker’s leadership skills, sense of humor, lightheartedness, and rapport she has with the children she serves.
“Dena has a gentle side about her,” says Blake. “She respects children and looks to work with them where they are.”
Booker says she has found a great atmosphere and has grown very close to her instructors and classmates. She carried her involvement beyond the classroom as president of the Early Childhood Club, an organization dedicated to helping Goodwin students to excel as leaders and make positive impacts in the lives of the children they serve.