The Future Looks Bright with Promising Young Students like Maegan Diagostino Entering the Special Education Teaching Profession
Hollingsworth, Jan Carter, The Exceptional Parent
The future certainly looks bright for the teaching profession as students like rising Marywood University sophomore, Maegan Diagostino, move toward careers in special education. And while the majority of young men and women who major in special ed bring a heaping helping of heart, personal commitment, and passion to the profession, Maegan offers an additional asset--a spirit of empathy for her students cultivated through her own journey of living with a disability. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Maegan by phone and found her to be a remarkable young woman--determined, dedicated, and full to overflowing with that endearing "I'm going to conquer the world" tenor to her voice. Maegan was open and honest about her disabilities; she has cerebral palsy as well as asthma and had 20 surgeries through childhood to improve and maintain her mobility. She also had much to tell me about her future aspirations, and her enthusiasm transferred loud and clear across the hundreds of miles of telephone line that separated us on that June afternoon just days after she arrived home for summer vacation.
EP: What inspired you to go into special education? And what do you think you will be able to bring to the teaching profession that will help and inspire the kids you teach?
MD: I have been in the special education system all my life, and I have seen how great the teachers are and how many obstacles they help their students overcome. It has inspired me to become a teacher so that I can help students overcome their own obstacles.
It's the main reason I have chosen special education as my life's path...And as a student who was also in regular education, inclusive education, I think I will be able to bring a full perspective to my students. I believe special education kids can open other kids' eyes and teach them not to make fun of people. My motto is that it's not whether you have a disability but what you do with that disability that makes an impact. I envision a classroom where kids with disabilities and those without can learn from each other.
EP: Tell me about your freshman year at Marywood. Was it fun? Challenging? What classes did you take? Did you live on campus?
MD: I lived on campus, and my first year was a challenge since I had some health issues going into my freshman year. I missed home, never having been away from home for that long a time before. But it was so much fun. I met great people, made lots of great friends. It was a bit of a transition ... you have certain classes at certain times rather than going all day like in high school ... so it took me some time to get acclimated ... but I can't wait to go back in the fall.
EP: Is your university disability friendly and tell me about the ACT 101 program?
MD: I feel they are doing a great job in a lot of ways. I entered Marywood University in the ACT 101 program, which is a program that helps people with disabilities and with health issues and sicknesses get through their years of college. I went early last summer before my freshman year officially started and completed English 160. I was able to take the class with financial aid and getting that done in the summer put me ahead. I also have counselors who will help in any way. …