HUNTSVILLE — When Layne Bleyswyk decided to attend the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the field of education proved a natural choice for her.
Next month, she will be picking up her bachelor of science degree in secondary education, English language arts.
“Growing up, I always had a passion for teaching,” she said. “I would ‘play school’ with my stuffed animals and my sister as my students. In my senior year of high school, I was given the opportunity to teach and mentor middle school girls, and it was the highlight of my year. I knew then that teaching is what I wanted to do.
“I have also always loved reading and writing. I believe ELA allows students to find their inner creativity to learn more about themselves and the world.”
Bleyswyk has been active on campus, and her industrious spirit has led her to pick up a bachelor of arts in English.
While taking care of her academics, Bleyswyk served as a Charger Representative, Delta Zeta national sorority intern, Orientation leader coordinator and CAHS Ambassador, among other activities. She was selected as Panhellenic Woman of the Year in 2022.
“I wanted to dive right in, make friends and get involved immediately,” she said. “I joined Delta Zeta during my freshman year and have found forever friends in this organization. I believe whatever you choose to do, do it wholeheartedly.
“As a New Student Orientation leader, I loved getting to meet the incoming students and welcome them to my home away from home.”
Negotiating what appeared to be an obvious path for the matriculating senior didn’t come
without a few detours along the way, however.
“Because I was a first-generation college student, I convinced myself I needed to do
something glamorous to prove to my family I could make it in higher education,” Bleyswyk
said. “I originally came to UAH with hopes of going to dental school. But after my first
semester, I called my mom and told her I wanted to be a teacher, not a dentist.
“The first words out of her mouth were, ‘I know. You just needed to realize it for yourself.’”
Managing such a demanding schedule could have proved daunting, yet Bleyswyk credits several mentors with helping to smooth the way.
“I have an amazing support system back home in Mobile and I have created a pretty
fantastic one here as well,” she said. “My mom has been one of my biggest supporters,
and honestly a shoulder to cry on. She believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself.
“I also had two teachers in high school, Anita Presley and Amy Huddle, who saw something greater in me. They helped me learn time management and organizational skills and encouraged me to try new things and helped grow my love for the social sciences.”
Bleyswyk calls Dr. Dana Skelley, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the
College of Education, “one of my biggest mentors.”
“She is always full of great ideas,” Bleyswyk said. “I don’t hesitate to ask her difficult questions or if she has any ideas about a particular lesson I am trying to teach.
“She is a positive ray of sunshine who also knows how to keep it honest and real. I’ve never left her class feeling drained or unproductive.”
Bleyswyk already knows what she wants to do after graduation and plans on keeping
things local when asked about her future goals.
“I am planning to live and work in the Huntsville area,” she said. “I want to start teaching at a middle or high school. I also plan to pursue my master’s and doctorate degrees in educational leadership.
“Long term, I would love to work in student affairs at the higher education level.”
One thing Bleysweyk said she will always be thankful for is choosing UAH to begin her climb to new horizons.
“UAH felt like home as soon as I got to campus; they cared – I wasn’t just a number,” she said. “My education was very much personalized to my needs. The College of Education gives its students so many opportunities to visit local schools, observe veteran teachers and teach lessons.
“Every school I have walked into has spoken with the highest praise of students who come out of our university. I could not imagine my life without UAH.”