Amanda Williamson (B.S. ’16) wasn’t sure if the elementary education program at Florida College had prepared her for her future as an elementary school teacher until she walked into her first interview for a full-time teaching position. She was being interviewed by a panel of six people, and she was intimidated.

“They started asking me questions, and it was amazing to me that I just knew all the answers,” Amanda said. “It was at that point that I knew that Florida College had prepared me for what I was about to do. I just got a whole new level of confidence. I felt like Florida College had given me all those answers and I didn’t even know it.”

Growing up in Plant City, Florida, Amanda was always near the college. She attended Florida College Academy until third grade and was homeschooled from fourth grade through high school. Amanda often attended dramatic productions and other events on the Florida College campus with her family, and she knew the environment was something she wanted to be a part of.

“I chose to come to Florida College because of the environment,” Amanda said. “I grew up around the school. I went to see musicals and plays and all the events at the school growing up. I liked what I saw, and I knew that was where I wanted to be.”

Amanda’s family wanted to be part of the Florida College environment too. Her mom, Melanie Williamson, started working in the Florida College Bookstore to be on campus with Amanda, and her brother, Andy Williamson, just earned his associate degree from Florida College. He will be returning to the college in the fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree in management information systems.

“My family has been really close all my life,” Amanda said. “We always joked that my mom followed me everywhere throughout my education. I’ve really liked that because family is important to me.”

During her time at Florida College, Amanda maintained a strong focus on academics, so most of her friends came from her classes. She also participated with societies, was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Alpha Chi and APPLE Club, and served as an academic ambassador for the elementary education program.

“The elementary education program at Florida College is very unique because it is so small,” Amanda said. “You develop a great relationship with your professors and the other people in the program. I had the same people in my classes, and we had all the same classes together all the way through school, so we were really close.”

Although she just graduated in May, Amanda has already accepted a position teaching first grade at River Hills Elementary Magnet School in Temple Terrace, Florida, and is excited to get in the classroom and start putting the things she has learned to work.

“I am most excited about being with the kids and being a positive influence on them,” Amanda said. “I want to teach them to love learning because that is really important to me.”

Amanda will begin teaching in the fall and hopes to serve as a bright light for her students.