Leadership Opportunity: Student to serve on national education committee

By Danielle Rebel

The opportunity of a lifetime was bestowed upon Kelsey Odegard, senior elementary inclusive major at MSUM.

Odegard was selected as one of eight students nationwide to serve on the National Education Association (NEA) Advisory Committee of Student Members for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Of the 55,000 NEA Student Program members, eight students of diverse backgrounds were appointed by the NEA to serve on the committee. The students make recommendations to the NEA president about how issues related to pre-professional needs of students are addressed, developed and implemented.

Odegard represents a wide range of states, including: Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, & Hawaii. Because other representatives are situated far across the country, weekly conference calls are held among members, along with bi-annual trips to Washington, D.C.

“It’s made me more passionate about teaching,” Odegard said. “Once you take the first step of getting involved in something that interests you, it can go a long way.”

Her experience and education at MSUM has helped Odegard impact teaching and the world of education even before graduation. The student committee is responsible for planning the NEA Student Leadership Conference, which will take place in Orlando, Fla., this summer.

“At our first face-to-face meeting we voted on ideas and started planning this summer’s community service project,” Odegard said. “My idea won!”

Odegard’s proposal, The Legacy Project, is a children’s learning expo and community garden. Booths run by student NEA workers attending the conference will help children learn through projects relating to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.

“We will also start a community garden and that will be the legacy,” Odegard said.

Last year’s project took place in Denver, Colo. The group revamped two schools in Denver by painting and purchasing new books and materials for the students.

“It was a great accomplishment,” Odegard said. “You have to plan for 10,000 people with $20,000. We wanted something that would really give back and be sustainable.”

Aside from her involvement at the national level, Odegard also serves as president for the Education Minnesota Student Program, MSUM’s chapter of the NEA Student Program. She was also appointed to the Student Governance Task Force for 2014-2015, which meets monthly at Education Minnesota Headquarters in St. Paul.

“Though we’re in Minnesota we can still have an impact nationally,” Odegard said. “Through this process I’ve learned there’s a lot of room for growth for me personally and professionally.”

Currently, MSUM’s chapter has about 1,200 members. For more information or to get involved, visit facebook.com/MSUM.EMSP.