BEd Elementary Education Student & Rainbow Wahine Volleyball Starter

Kendra Koelsch

"How cool is it that elementary school teachers have the ability to influence their students’ love for learning and life?! I want to be that teacher!"


Huntington Beach, California


School of Teacher Education - Elementary

Related Degrees

  • BEd, Elementary Education

Current Position
I am a full-time student and athlete. I have been so blessed to have received a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at the University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa.

How long have you been playing volleyball?
I have been playing volleyball since the 8th grade, so this would be my ninth year… How crazy!

How do you manage your time as a student athlete?
Okay, three planners, supportive professors and coaches, and a whole lot of positive self-talk! I always start out every semester planning out my whole academic semester using a homemade calendar, writing down every assignment, quiz, test, in-class readings, etc. After that, I use a weekly planner (one that is covered in cheetah print and aesthetically pleasing) to add my weekly “to-do’s” – you have to make your busy schedule look somewhat nice, right? Then, I have my Google Calendar that I look at every night before I go to bed to check our practice agenda for the next day. Google Calendar saves lives, people. My professors, mentors, academic advisors and coaches have been the BIGGEST support in managing my time as a student-athlete. It is so nice to be able to have a group of people who are advocating for your success and well-being. Lastly, in between rushing to the next thing on my list, I am always preparing myself mentally to stay focused and to stay motivated. One of the most crucial plays I perform in my life is being present. Let me say it again:  PRESENT. Wherever I go, whatever task I am completing, I am there and there only. That way, I can just focus all my efforts into that skill.

When did you decide you wanted to become a teacher?
The idea of becoming a teacher started in high school. My high school math teachers saw something in me and encouraged me along that path. However, it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized I wanted to pursue teaching. Since then, my college experience has been more than I have ever dreamed!

Why did you choose elementary education?
I chose elementary education because I wanted to be a light to students, in the beginning years of their lives. How cool is it that elementary school teachers have the ability to influence their students’ love for learning and life?! I want to be that teacher!

Briefly describe your road to college.
My road to college started from an early age. My parents always encouraged me to be the best I can be in academics and the sport I loved. If I did poorly in school, sports was on the line – I had to do well in education first. My middle school and high school experience was filled with sweat and tears (happy tears). As soon as I got my license, I drove two hours to practice every day to practice volleyball in hopes of, one day, receiving a full-ride to college. My senior year of high school is when all those years of pushing myself in school and volleyball paid off. I was recruited and accepted into the University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa, my dream college!

In addition to being a starting college athlete and student teacher, you are an artist and amateur photographer. How will you bring all of these different passions and disciplines into your classroom?
In my future classroom, I want to encourage students to discover their strengths, pursue their passions, and produce their best possible work. In order for this to happen, I want to create a classroom environment that appreciates all the wonderful people, places, and cultures our world contains! Also, I want to provide opportunities for students to discover through hands-on learning. Thinking back, the most memorable lessons I had learned in school were the ones that were creative and engaging.

What/who has been your biggest influence(s) in education?
Some of the biggest influences in education have been my cohort mentors, Stephanie Buelow and Rosela Balinbin Santos; my coach, Robyn Ah-Mow Santos; and “Mr. D” or Joe Dombrowski, an elementary teacher that showcases his personality and teaching strategies on Instagram! I cannot thank them enough. They have played the biggest role in my professional career and growth as a person. They push me in education, but also to see the bigger picture in life. That has been the greatest take-away for me and the reason why I want to become a teacher.

What are your plans after graduation?
My plans after graduation still all end in question marks. I have three big ideas: 1) play professional volleyball overseas and teach wherever I live, 2) go to graduate school and play beach volleyball (it is unbelievably hard to think this is the end!), or 3) teach in Hawai‛i (Kaua‛i, Maui, or wherever will hire me). We will see what happens this upcoming spring. I am so excited to see what comes next though! The College of Education has prepared me for life in so many ways. I couldn’t be more grateful.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Elementary Education.

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