True to her hometown values, Columbus native Karly Hiquet wants to be a STEM teacher, specifically science.

Hiquet, a 2011 Columbus North graduate, studied at Purdue University and graduated with a degree in brain and behavioral sciences in December 2014.

But her career plans changed during the final semester of her undergraduate career, when she decided to become a teacher.

“I had hopped through a couple majors and didn’t really feel any were right,” Hiquet said. “I had always thought I wanted to be a teacher and finally realized it was what felt right for me.”

But because she hadn’t taken the exams needed to get a teaching license in Indiana while still in college, Hiquet had to follow a different path to reach her dream.

That path led her to the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship, a program specifically designed to train science, technology, engineering and math teachers and professionals to teach in high-need secondary schools.

Hiquet’s journey to becoming a Woodrow Wilson fellow was a bit unconventional, but one she said will lead her to her dream career. She spoke with The Republic about the steps she had to take to become a fellow, and what she plans to do after the fellowship.

How did you find out about the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship?

I originally heard about the fellowship through one of my friends. She sent me a link about it when I originally decided to go into teaching — which was near the end of my undergraduate career — and when I realized I would need additional schooling. I didn’t end up applying, and applied to the Transition to Teaching Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

This past spring, my aunt again mentioned the fellowship to me, so I looked into it a little more. I had missed the deadline for the application but sent them an email anyway, with the hopes that they would still take me. The people at the foundation were extremely nice and accommodating and let me apply, even though I was about six months late.

Why did you want to be a fellow?

I wanted to become a fellow in the program because I believe high-need schools will provide a greater opportunity to grow as a teacher. While they present challenges, they are also very rewarding.

This program also provides intensive, lengthy experience in schools that will help better prepare me for when I have my own classroom. I think every student deserves the best opportunity possible to learn, and this program provides me with the opportunity to reach students that I may not have been able to reach in other programs.

This program also provides a lot of support and encouragement through student teaching, as well as the first three years in a classroom. Having that support will enable me to become a better educator.

What was the application process?

The application process involved an initial application online, where you submit a lot of general information with two essays and two letters of recommendation. The essays were mainly about why I wanted to be in the program. I had one of my professors from Purdue write one of my letters, and my other letter came from the principal of the school I was working at in the spring.

After the initial application, I had to schedule an interview. Since I applied late, I did a Skype interview with someone from the foundation. If I had applied on time, I think I would have attended a group interview that had both group activities and individual parts.

How were you selected?

I was selected as one of 13 to attend the program at IUPUI. I am not sure what I was up against exactly since I applied late, but I feel very lucky that I was chosen.

What was your reaction when you were named a teaching fellow?

I was very excited. I felt a lot of relief because I had been applying to programs and working at the same time, hoping one program would work out, because I really feel like I will be a good teacher.

What kind of work will you do as a fellow?

As a fellow, you complete one year of student teaching. Half of the year is spent in a middle school, and the other half is in a high school. I am currently in my semester of middle school teaching at Fall Creek Vally Middle School in Lawrence Township in Indianapolis.

After our year of student teaching, we start in our own classrooms in high-need schools. We teach for three years in high-need schools, and after that we fulfill the requirements for the fellowship. We also take graduate classes throughout our student teaching and into our first year as teachers and complete a master’s degree.

What are you looking forward to in the program?

I am really looking forward to getting to work in schools that are a lot different than the ones I experienced in Columbus. I am also really looking forward to getting to meet so many students and teachers. In the small amount of time that I have been in the middle school, I have already learned so much from the other faculty.

What are your plans after the fellowship?

After the fellowship is over, I plan to continue teaching. I ultimately would like to move out of Indiana to experience a new place with different schools.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

In 2015, 49 Indiana teachers and STEM professionals were selected as Woodrow Wilson teaching fellows. Fellowship courses are offered at Ball State University, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University, University of Indianapolis and Valparaiso University. The fellows will spend four years teaching science, technology, engineering and math to students in the state’s most underserved school districts.