First-gen student pursued her passion at UofL to discover her calling as an educator

Jordyn Hunter

Part of Jordyn Hunter always knew she belonged in a classroom.

Her passion for helping others led her to UofL, where she became a first-generation student, Woodford R. Porter scholar, Multicultural Teacher Recruitment Program scholar and president of the Kentucky Education Association’s student program on campus, among several other accomplishments. Now, all of Hunter’s hard work has paid off for her and she’s earned her degree in early education with a track in learning and behavior disorders.

However, Hunter strayed from the path to becoming an educator before finally discovering her calling. She came into college undecided of her major and focused on taking general education courses to explore her options and find her purpose for her. She tried out nursing, but quickly realized that it was not her career for her.

“I met with my advisor and got into the lower division of nursing and everything,” she said. “Everyone was so helpful, but in that first week of nursing classes, I figured out that it was not for me. I don’t like blood.”

She ultimately switched to education and never looked back.

“I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I had those thoughts running through my head, like, ‘Oh, they have to deal with this and that and they don’t get paid enough,’” she said. “But once I let all of that go and went toward what I love to do, which is being with kids and helping them out, I really found my true passion in teaching.”

While in high school, Hunter participated in a buddy program where she helped students in a moderate to severe disability classroom. Her experience of her sparked her interest in helping those with learning and behavior disorders.

“For one period of the day, I would help students with life skills and go on field trips to learn skills like counting money or how to pick out hygiene products,” she said. “We were trying to get those students ready for transitioning in their lives. We helped prepare them for what life after high school would look like and made sure they had the skills they need to transition successfully.”

Hunter, who hails from Shelbyville, knew then she had a passion for helping people. And when it came time for her to decide on a college, an on-campus tour of UofL’s campus and a scholarship opportunity helped make the decision an easy one.

“I toured around the university with my cousin who was a student and I just loved it. I saw so many diverse groups of people, which was so different for me, especially coming from a small town,” she said. “It was very different for me, but an exciting type of different, so I applied for and got the Woodford Porter scholarship, which really swayed me to attend here.”

Being a Porter scholar provided Hunter with a community that helped her discover more about herself and build relationships that have helped her succeed in education.

“I’ve been a Porter since my freshman year and that has allowed me to make so many connections with not just other Black students, but Black educators. That’s something I’ve not seen a lot of, so those opportunities to connect and network with other Black educators have been really great,” she said. “It’s also allowed me to learn a lot more about myself and connect with my dad’s side of the family, which is my Black side.”

Hunter credits her parents for helping her not only become a first-generation student, but to achieve everything she’s accomplished over the last four years.

“My mom and dad cared so much and wanted to make it different for me, so they learned along with me and helped me through it all,” she said. “It feels really good to graduate first-gen. Especially since I had no idea at first going through the process of learning all the things that come with college and now I know and can help others and my future children one day.”

In addition to her multiple scholarships, Hunter also serves as a peer buddy for the Best Buddies program, is a member of the Black Student Union, Baptist Campus Ministry, Kentucky Association of Professional African American Women and works as a student success ambassador on campus.

“I have mentees that are also first-gen students and helping them find resources and support from the Student Success Center has also provided so much help for me too,” she said. “Seeing the impact I’ve made on my mentees’ lives has been so rewarding.”

Hunter’s professors and mentors have inspired her to make an impact on others.

“I’ve seen the passion all my professors have and being able to help other educators like they’ve helped me is what I want to do. Especially in education, you always need a mentor and someone to help you. I want to be that person to give that back to new teachers or college students or kids.”

Jordyn Hunter will pursue her graduate degree at UofL this fall.

For her next move, Hunter is going to attend grad school at UofL to pursue her master’s in teacher leadership with an ESL endorsement this fall.

One of Hunter’s fondest memories from her time in undergrad is helping a student learn to write his name during her student teaching.

“It’s incredible what you can do just by showing a student they are loved.”

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