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Do you love your job? Erin does. In fact, the 2002 grad says, "My career aspiration was to become a high school English teacher, which I currently am, so you could say I'm livin' the dream." Erin double majored in English and Secondary Education at Lakeland, which prepared her for her current position in many ways. The Random Lake, WI native credits the educators at Lakeland with helping her get where she is today.
A few of the instructors Erin singled out as particularly memorable include Lucretia Crawford, Mehraban Khodavandi, and Janet Herrick-Stuczynski. Erin says, "Lucretia Crawford was my English advisor. She was always incredibly supportive and had such inventive ideas. I loved my Native American Literature classes with her." Another important figure for Erin at Lakeland was Mehraban. "Khodavandi taught most of my education classes. He challenged me to work harder and make the most out of every educational opportunity. I enjoyed his sense of humor and compassion."
Some other courses of particular importance to Erin were in vocal music. "Even though music was not my major, I spent countless hours in Verhulst. Janet Herrick-Stuczynski taught me not to just settle… for anything. She was very instrumental during my time at Lakeland. I knew she cared about my education at Lakeland, but beyond that, I knew she cared about me as an individual. She pushed me to not only become a better singer, but a better person." Erin even credits choir with changing her life. She says she and her husband, Steve Belongie `03, were total opposites. "He was a Computer Science major and I was English and education, so the chance of us having any class together was slim. We did, however, find one common denominator: choir."
Erin adds that she had so many outstanding educators at Lakeland, narrowing to a few proved difficult. "Though I may not mention all of them by name, I'd like to thank all the professors at Lakeland who had me as a student. You made me feel like a person rather than an ID number. Your efforts and time were not unnoticed," she adds.
In her current role as a high school English teacher, Erin has had a number of opportunities to explore various genres with her students. At this time, she is in her sixth year of teaching at North High School with the Sheboygan Area School District. Over the course of her teaching career, she has taught English 3, English 4, Practical Writing, Science Fiction, and Mythology and Legend. "It is an excellent school, with a dedicated staff and wonderful students. I can honestly say I am blessed to be in a career I love." When asked how Lakeland helped prepare her for her job as a teacher, Erin pointed to the fact that people learn a lot about themselves while they are at Lakeland. Opportunities like humanities classes, convocations, and classroom discussions offer the opportunity for self-reflection. In addition, she says she learned specific skills for her career and her life.
Leaving Lakeland wasn't easy for Erin, which is part of the reason she currently serves the college as a task force leader for the Lakeland College Alumni Association Board of Directors. She says, "When I get nostalgic about Lakeland, I remember and miss the staff and friends who helped build and maintain the [Lakeland] community relationship. During my college years, there were always open doors and ears to listen." Of course, on a lighter note, she also misses singing challenging choir pieces, Muskie Mart bacon cheeseburgers, and hanging out in her Phi Delta Omega sorority suite - but who doesn't?Today, Erin and her husband Steve live in Sheboygan. She enjoys traveling, stamping, reading, and playing sports.