College of Education

A Teacher, A Soldier: Joanna Curci ('18) Wins ROTC Scholarship


In this profile: We feature a very unique College of Education student: Joanna Curci ('18). She is part of the Elementary Education program as well as the JMU ROTC Duke Battalion.  Curci is the recipient of a 3.5 year Army ROTC Campus Based Scholarship. She recieves 3.5 years of full tuition at JMU, $4,200 for books and fees, and  $12,000 in stipend money paid out over the 3.5 years. This Scholarship was awarded on merit for her leadership, athletics/physical fitness and her scholarship abilities. The type of scholarship she received allows her to compete for an Active Duty Commission or decide later to go into any National Guard system or the US Army Reserves (USAR).

Joanna took the time to reflect on her time here at JMU and her future carrer in Education and the Military.

You are an IDLS major, with a minor in Elementary Education. Can you tell us more about why you’re choosing Elementary Education and what vision/goals you have for your educational career?

    “When I envision my most rewarding future, I see myself educating and mentoring students. I choose to study elementary education, because I feel I can be the most impactful on younger students. Elementary students are at the age where others are still heavily influencing them, especially teachers. As an elementary school teacher, I hope to influence my students by giving them a good foundation for learning. It is crucial to give the students a positive foundation to education, as that is what drives their decision-making throughout their education and life.  The more influential and positive the foundation, the stronger desire the students will have to learn in and out of the classroom. It is my goal that the foundation I build will carry on with them throughout and beyond their schooling.”

How do you imagine your commitment to the Military will blend with those educational career goals? 

    “I know that my military experience will only benefit me as I move on to my educational career, because the skills and lessons I will learn in the Army are identical to those in the educational program. One of the most beneficial lessons I have already learned through ROTC is that to be a great leader, you have to be aware and accepting of everyone’s personalities, backgrounds, beliefs, and learning styles. Everyone in the military and everyone in a classroom is impactful, it is our job as a leader to figure out their strengths and use them to benefit everyone.

    I also feel that a leadership position in the military will give me the experience needed to be a mentor for others, which will help make the transition to teaching much simpler. By the time I am ready to retire from the Army, I will have learned how to be a great listener, leader, learner, decision-maker, and role model: characteristics that are crucial for any successful teacher.”

Tell us more about why you chose JMU and how, by the second week of school, you knew you wanted to be a teacher?

    “I chose JMU for its beauty. It’s depth, atmosphere, location, and reputation stood out above all other universities to me. There was no comparison. When applying for colleges I could always find at least one thing that I did not care for in each school, whether it was the distance from home, the food, or just the overall feel I got when touring them, but I could never find one for James Madison. It is the perfect school for me in every way possible.

    I was also drawn to JMU for its Business program. I thought about what life would be like graduating with a business major: a large variety of jobs lined up, all with substantial pay. I figured I would be very successful in that field, but then I thought about what success really means to me. Success to me is not about how much money I make, its about how much I can positively impact a person’s/people’s lives. Once I came to this realization, I knew that teaching students would be the utmost rewarding career path for me.”

Lastly: is there anything that you’ve experienced so far, by pursuing your education licensure, that was unexpected? A special relationship? An ah-ha moment in one of your classes? 

    “I never imagined bonding with other students in the education program as fast and as strong as I have this semester. The amazing thing about this program is that everyone in it has the same end goal, which is to truly educate and have a positive impact on their students’ lives. This shared goal is the glue that bonds education students together, and is unlike any other major.

    I also never realized how identical the teachings in the military are to the teachings in the Education program, until taking EDUC 300. EDUC 300 with Professor Larry Huffman has truly deepened my understanding of the building blocks that create the most successful teacher. He explains that the foundations of American Education are knowledge, attitude, skills, leadership, learning, motivation, assessment, resources, people, and impact. The more he explained how they are used in American education, the easier it became to visualize how they are used to build a strong military.”

Joanna Curci ('18) is committed to four years of active duty and four years of reserve post-graduation. She shares more about her path in this statement.

Published: Monday, April 18, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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