Asia Burgett combines love of astronomy with teaching degree

During Asia Burgett’s freshman year at IU, they weren’t happy with their chosen major of Astronomy. But thanks to the welcoming atmosphere they felt working in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the IU School of Education and after a meeting with their career counselor, Burgett switched majors to Early Childhood Education—keeping Astronomy as a minor.

Burgett had an interest in working with kids when they came to IU: “I remember taking two college level psychology classes in high school. I was really interested in development; I have an extensive history in working with kids,” they explained. “ I was sitting with my career counselor telling her all this, and she was like, ‘It sounds like you want to be a teacher.’ I started taking a couple classes and was like, this is it, this is what I want to do.”

But their passion for the astrophysics world continued. With support from academic advisors at the School of Education and the Astronomy department, Burgett is now combining their minor in Astronomy with their education degree to improve the study of space for students. Currently they’re working on creating a series of lesson plans that teachers can use to teach the solar eclipse in a meaningful way.

While at the School of Education, Burgett continues their work in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and is also involved in the Community of Diverse Educators. And soon they will be gaining real-world teaching experience through the Global Gateway for Teachers program with a placement in Chicago, a perfect fit for their future plans of working in an urban setting.

“I remember hearing about Global Gateway around freshman year but I didn’t really have a desire to go to a different country. I found out they had the Urban program which was already what I wanted to do anyway,” Burgett said.

After graduation, Burgett hopes to go straight into teaching—and maybe graduate school after that. Their research interests include studying how kids develop gender identity and learn STEM concepts, and how teaching STEM could be improved in schools.