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Inspired by teachers at Mercer County, NKU’s Emmy Souder aims to make impact through education


By Chloe Smith
Northern Kentucky University

In addition to juggling a hectic schedule of classes, practices and games, Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball player Emmy Souder has worked diligently to gain the experience needed to actualize her dream of becoming a teacher.

The junior forward is a middle school education major, focusing in both mathematics and special education, and has already gained valuable insight into her future field thanks to being able to get into classrooms and interact with young students early in her collegiate career.

Emmy Souder

Like many that choose to go into education, Souder decided to pursue the career path because she was inspired by her own teachers. “Usually people hate middle school, but I loved it, and part of the reason is that my teachers were really great,” she said.

Souder was particularly close to her eighth-grade math teacher and realized that middle school mathematics would be a good fit for her. Additionally, Souder was a peer tutor for the special education program during her senior year of high school, which led to her pursuing a second major.

With her degrees, Souder will be able to teach middle school math as well as special education for grades K-12. A graduate of Mercer County High School, Souder started all 32 games, averaging 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest this past season as NKU posted a 20-12 record.

The suspension of in-classroom learning has not only altered the way that Souder learns as a student herself, but also how she is able to interact with young students as part of her program. Souder had already been able to go into classrooms to shadow teachers in two-hour periods.

The past semester, she even was able to get more experience than normal after her assigned teacher had to undergo surgery. However, her two placements in the spring semester were shortened to one as soon as learning went online.

Emmy Souder started all 32 games last season, averaging 8.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

And even more, the assignments that Souder had planned on completing after basketball season were thrown into limbo, as she was unable to transition her placements to an online environment due to the additional stress it would place on the teachers.

Nonetheless, Souder is able to draw positives from her current circumstances.

“One of my classes I took this past semester was a technology course for future educators, so it was perfect timing to be learning how to incorporate technology into a classroom with everything going on right now,” she said. “I hope another pandemic doesn’t happen any time soon, but if it does, I will feel more prepared going in after taking the courses I did, and talking to other teachers who are in the midst of online teaching.”

With uncertainty still remaining for the fall, Souder maintains an upbeat composure. “Thankfully, it works out well for me because I have a semester where I don’t have to go into a classroom,” she said. “Next semester, I’m just going to be having content courses and then in the spring I’ll go back into a classroom.”

The introduction of online learning in the primary and secondary education systems has meant that not only teachers and students, but also future educators, have found necessity in adaptability. Luckily, Souder has been able to take these changes in stride thanks to her support system as a student-athlete.

Even before NKU went online, Souder had become adept at balancing multiple facets of her life, praising her support staff for allowing her to best maximize her efforts as both a student and athlete.

A graduate of Mercer County High School, Emmy Souder has emerged as a solid scorer and rebounder during her two seasons at NKU. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

“All the academic people such as Zach (Barge) have been helpful a lot,” she said. “They made our schedule where all our basketball and conditioning were in the morning, so anywhere from 7 a.m. to noon. And then I would get to go to school from 12:30 to 2:30. It worked out really well because I could focus all my time on one thing and then switch, and didn’t have to have a workout, then go to school, then go back to do something else related to basketball.”

“For my major, there are many other requirements besides the typical weekly assignments that may be due for a class,” Souder added. “Being an education major requires you to get field experience hours, so figuring when I can do things is probably the biggest challenge. But the academic and coaching staff do a great job at scheduling events, practices and classes where it’s not overwhelming.”

Souder will look to that same support system as she goes into her final two seasons at NKU. With the women’s basketball team coming off its best season in the Division I era, the future of the program is bright and expectations are rising.

And after her playing days are over, she can look forward to making the same impact on her students’ lives just as her teachers did with her.

“Besides your parents and family, teachers and coaches are the people who shape you into the person you are,” Souder said. “This is 100 percent true for me as I have had many teachers and coaches in grade school who really wanted the best for me and wanted to watch me succeed.

“Without them, I don’t know that I would be in the position that I am in now.”

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