Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

Spring 2018 HMS Foundation Scholarship Awards are Announced

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The Watson College joined a select group of 24 institutions as a Hattie M. Strong Foundation partner in 2013. The partnership allows WCE to offer $5,000 scholarships to outstanding pre-service teachers in the internship semester. Scholarships are awarded to students with strong academic performance who show promise to be outstanding interns and classroom teachers, and have financial need. Please join us in extending congratulations to spring 2018 Hattie M. Strong scholarship recipients Montana Lankford, Celine Lantz and Chelsea Motyka.

Montana Lankford

Montana Lankford is enrolled in the Adapted Curriculum Special Education program at the Watson College. She graduated from high school in Oklahoma and earned an associate’s degree before transferring to UNCW while her husband was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.

During high school, Lankford participated in a program called Students Assisting Students. She initially planned to help out in a middle school English classroom, but instead was placed in a special education classroom, where she volunteered for three years.

“After the first couple of days, there was no turning back,” she said. “I absolutely loved the students and knew I wanted to become a special education teacher.”

Lankford said classes and field placements at the Watson College have helped her prepare for her internship semester and future career. “I honestly believe Watson has the best faculty and program,” she said. “We had many opportunities to be in the field working one-on-one with students which I believe is the most helpful in learning. I found a program that is very tight-knit and has students that share similar goals. It is like being in a really big family where I can ask my classmates and professors for advice and always get great ideas and experiences.”

After working two jobs to pay for school and daycare for her three-year-old last semester, Lankford worried how she would balance work, family and a full-time internship this spring. “The Hattie M. Strong Scholarship means the world to me,” she said. “Without it, the internship would probably not be possible to complete. Now, I can completely focus on my work in the classroom and still have time for my family!”

Lankford hopes to work as a special education teacher in a Title I school following graduation and to eventually pursue a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Celine Lantz

Celine Lantz grew up in upstate New York and attended St. Bonaventure University and Elmira College before transferring to UNCW and enrolling in the Elementary Education program at the Watson College.

“I have known that I wanted to be a teacher since I was in the second grade,” she said. “My teacher, Mrs. Taets, made a lasting impact on me and remains one of my biggest inspirations and mentors. I want to have that same effect on children someday.”

Lantz said she was both excited and terrified about the prospect of moving twelve hours away from home, but did so because she was determined to become part of the Watson College. “I knew Watson would prepare me to become a great and effective teacher,” she said. “The Education Building alone was enough to draw my attention, as it clearly shows that the university is invested in their aspiring teachers.”

Amazing faculty, challenging courses and opportunities to be engaged in the classroom beginning very early on have made her experience at the Watson College meaningful, powerful and positive, she said. “I am incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to experience almost every grade level and become a well-rounded teacher. Transferring to UNCW and becoming a part of the Watson College has been the best decision I have ever made.”

Lantz called the Hattie M. Strong scholarship a blessing. “It means having the opportunity to focus all my attention on my students, my education and my growth as a teacher,” she said. The scholarship will also alleviate financial pressure for her family. “My parents have sacrificed everything for me and my education. The scholarship means that optimism and hard work pay off. It means my parents and I can breathe a breath of fresh air.”

Lantz hopes to teach in Wilmington following graduation. She also looks forward to “an opportunity to work with students in the Watson College of Education and give back to the school that has shaped me into the teacher I am today.”

Chelsea Motyka

Chelsea Motyka is enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education program at WCE. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences from Eastern Illinois University and began her career as a behavior technician, working with children with autism and other disabilities. Motyka initially planned to become a speech pathologist, but a job as a teacher assistant at Winter Park Elementary convinced her to pursue her teaching degree instead.

“After just one day I knew I had found my calling,” Motyka said. “I left work with my cheeks hurting from smiling. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity. I was in the most charming elementary school with amazing colleagues and incredible students that easily taught me more than I taught them!”

She enrolled in WCE’s MAT program at the recommendation of two friends, and said it has been a great experience.

“WCE has provided me with the most amazing, approachable, resourceful and caring professors I have ever had the chance to work with,” she said. “I have been encouraged and guided every step of the way in pursuing my dreams. I have been given resources to use in the classroom and endless opportunities to collaborate and practice lessons and strategies for teaching. I feel totally prepared for the future and I am so appreciative for all of the professors and teachers that have helped me along the way.” 

Motyka said she is thankful to receive the Hattie M. Strong scholarship. “The scholarship means that I am able to focus whole heartedly on my diversity course and internship this semester without letting the stress of paying bills get in the way,” she said.

Motyka’s future plans include teaching and adding a licensure for special education. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” she said. “I am excited for students and a classroom of my own. I hope to always engage, educate and empower the students in my classroom.” 

The Hattie M. Strong Foundation

Since 1928, the Hattie M. Strong Foundation has helped aspiring students achieve a college degree in their chosen field of study by providing interest-free loans with flexible repayment terms. In 2009, recognizing the alarming debt loads of recent graduates, the foundation’s board of directors moved to offer scholarships instead. Today, HMSF’s primary activity is the administration of a scholarship program aimed at college students enrolled in teacher training programs at partnering institutions. Partner colleges are selected based on demonstrated leadership in preparing outstanding classroom teachers.

A specific goal of the foundation is to help reduce financial pressure during the student internship semester, when a student’s ability to offset expenses with outside employment is curtailed by the rigor of full-time work in the classroom.