Educating future educators

Lillian LaTour

Finding a school with both an excellent elementary education program and a diverse community was a necessity for freshman Lillian LaTour.

“I fell in love with the Bloomington campus and the diverse and international community that was rooted here,” LaTour said. “Coming from Hong Kong, that was something I needed and appreciated.”

As the fall semester begins, first-year students from 43 states and 44 countries may find engagement at the university’s culture centers. IU is home to the First Nations Education and Cultural Center, Asian Culture Center, LGBTQ+ Culture Center, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, Jewish Culture Center, La Casa Latino Cultural Center and more. These centers serve as meeting spaces for students to congregate, share meals, plan outreach and advocacy events, and learn from one another.

Babysitting, tutoring and volunteering in the children’s ministry at her church in Hong Kong inspired LaTour to become a teacher.

“I also really enjoyed my elementary years and remember so much of what my own teachers did for me, so I wanted to be able to do the same for future students,” LaTour said.

In her college research, she said she was pleased to discover that the IU School of Education offered a Direct Admit Scholars program, which provides students with peer mentorship from more experienced students and academic advisors, additional scholarship opportunities, and stipends toward student teaching programs both domestic and abroad. A record 5,721 direct-admit students across various schools begin their academic journeys at IU this semester.

With a goal to teach internationally, LaTour was especially interested in the school’s award-winning Global Gateway for Teachers program, which provides pathways for students to teach abroad for a semester. She said she is undecided on which Global Gateways location to choose, but Australia, Italy and Spain are of particular interest. LaTour will be among approximately 4,000 IU students who study abroad each year, gaining a global perspective and building skills that transfer beyond travel and into their careers.