News - Stick It Out: Service Through Struggle

Stick It Out: Service Through Struggle

by Rachel Heston-Davis Stick It Out: Service Through Struggle

“There’s nothing like watching kids accomplish something they never thought they could.”

Kirsten Norsworthy Freeze ’17 said this of her middle school students, but the sentiment describes Kirsten’s tenacity, too. She stuck out a rough start in her teaching career to serve others.

Kirsten graduated in May, earning top honors as Greenville University’s 2017 President’s Citation awardee. By September, she was teaching middle school special education at a struggling school district in Cahokia, Illinois. The first three weeks of fielding difficult student behavior and navigating an underfunded school tested Kirsten’s resolve in ways she didn’t expect. She drew strength from lessons she learned at Greenville University.

“Greenville really helped me to develop this sense of serving those who need you most, not to save them from anything, but to support them in becoming more fully who they are,” Kirsten explains.

Kirsten remembered why she chose to work in Cahokia. After scoring in the top one percent nationally in two categories on her state teacher’s license exam, and accumulating countless hours of field experience in the classroom, she could have sought a job anywhere. She picked the struggling district because that’s where her gifts were most needed.

“I wanted to work with students that needed me,” she says. “I needed my teachers when I was a kid. I wanted to give that back.”

With this in mind, Kirsten buckled down and held on through the early weeks. Before she knew it, she was halfway through the semester and accomplishing the job that felt so impossible in those first few days.

Kirsten’s story continues a long tradition of service stretching back all the way to the University’s first president, Wilson T. Hogue, who came to Greenville uncertain of its future but tirelessly raised funds and promoted the University until the end of his life.

Current President Ivan Filby sums it up best: “This is a place where people came to work sacrificially, and we ought not forget that.”


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Students like Kirsten are the grateful recipients of University-funded scholarships. Support scholarships today and help students like Kirsten take their talents where they’re needed most.

This story was published on December 12, 2017

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