ASU alumna, veteran aims to excite students about history
Editor's note: This is part of a series on ASU alumni. Find more stories here.
She graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, but it would seem Zsuzsa Szabo just can’t stay away from ASU.
Even though she currently teaches 11th-grade American history and 9th-grade world history at Dobson High School in Mesa, Szabo has returned to the university — where she was selected to receive the William C. Jenkins-Helios Teaching Fellowship — to obtain her master’s in history.
Szabo also finds time to coach the freshman cheer team at Dobson High, serve as the school’s coordinator for the Future Sun Devils Families program and is a member of the ASU Veterans Club group.
Letting her passion for history be her guide, the U.S. Air Force vet looks forward to building relationships with her students that allow her to impart some of that deep-seated affection for all things past.
Question: At what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue a career in education?
Answer: I have always possessed a passion for learning history. It was when I was tutoring my nephews in history and seeing how excited and interested they were in American history that I realized that I may be able to get more kids excited about history through my teaching.
Q: How has your experience at ASU helped to put you in the position you are in today?
A: I had so many great experiences in the teachers program at ASU. The collaboration I experienced with my colleagues and professors was invaluable. After graduating from the program, I felt secure in knowing that I would be prepared to enter the workforce as a teacher.
Q: What excites you about teaching?
A: What most excites me about teaching is getting to directly interact and build relationships with students, while also getting them interested in learning about history. I feel that even if I can get them interested or excited to learn about just one person, place or subject about history, where they can then dig a little deeper about it, I have won a little bit.
Q: How do you think your experience in the Air Force helped prepare you for teaching?
A: The skills I acquired through my experience in the Air Force have been invaluable to me. The Air Force prepared me for teaching in many ways, such as accountability, ability to work under stress and keep deadlines, working with diverse groups of people, and planning and organization. However, I think the most important skill it taught me was adaptability. Like any teacher will tell you, you can plan your lesson down to the most minute detail, but I can guarantee there will be something that throws it off course. Being able to adapt and adjust is a must in education, and my experiences in the Air Force fully prepared me for that.
Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to have a career in education?
A: My advice to anyone looking into having a career in education is to first volunteer in a classroom. You really have to get in there and see if it’s the right fit for you. Although teaching can at times be very stressful, it is also highly rewarding.