May 23, 2022
Mackenzie DeMaio '24 is an elementary/special education major at Hood College. She was recently awarded the Teaching Fellows of Maryland Scholarship.
Tell us about your background and where you are from originally.
My parents were born in Boston and grew up there. I was born in Boston and lived there until I was 10 years old, when I moved across the country to California. Me, my five siblings and our parents lived on a beautiful small peninsula called Coronado Island, where I spent my middle and high school years at. I really enjoyed my time in California, as I was able to walk down the street or ride my bike a block and I was at the beach. My brothers attended University of Maryland at the time and they both played lacrosse there, which was a big deal for our family. Both of my brothers being so far away while pursuing their lacrosse careers helped my parents make the decision to move to Maryland. We moved to Urbana, where I started a new chapter of my life and chose to attend Hood College, as I really wanted to play lacrosse. I really enjoy Hood because of my lacrosse team, my professors and the friends I’ve made here.
Why did you choose to study at Hood College and what has been your favorite experience here so far?
As I mentioned, both of my brothers played lacrosse here in Maryland while my family was in California, so we shortly moved to Maryland after they began their lacrosse careers at UMD. Although there were many options in Maryland for collegiate lacrosse, something about Hood brought me in. I really liked the small community and the friendships the lacrosse team had when I showed up. I also had a connection to the head lacrosse coach here, as my high school coach played alongside Hood College's head coach at the time. Once I started my first classes, I knew I had made the right decision. There were only 10-15 people per class, which made it extremely easy to get individualized help.
What made you want to pursue elementary/special education?
My whole life, I have been setting the footsteps for my younger siblings to step into. I have three younger sisters who have always looked to me for friendship, advice and knowledge. Since a young age, I have always loved teaching them rights from wrongs and being a role model for them to follow. Another thing that has drawn me into pursuing a career in education is how many children need more help than they are receiving. Many students struggle with so many things outside the classroom. As teachers, it’s our job to be aware of these things and help these children escape whatever issues they are dealing with at home. Instead of school being another burden to get through day to day, it can help many students feel important and smart.
Congratulations on receiving the Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship! How do you feel this award will benefit your career?
Receiving this award has been an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I feel extremely grateful to have been chosen for this award and it takes a huge weight off my back. Being able to graduate debt free is something that every collegiate student hopes for, but many do not receive the opportunity. Now, I will be able to focus more on my career and my academics and less on the financial concerns I’ve been facing throughout my years in college. In return for receiving this scholarship, I have pledged to work at an institution with more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced meal plans. This is something that I am very excited for. Being in that type of environment is going to be both challenging and rewarding. Even if I did not receive this award, I would still have loved to work in this type of school because that’s where good teachers are needed the most.