June 9, 2022

Science

Easing the Financial Burden: Young Alum Creates Scholarship for Math Student Teachers

Brooks standing infront of a house wearing a red shirt smiling

Brooks was thankful for the financial help he received in college and decided he wanted to help other future teachers. In fall 2021, during his first few months of teaching, he worked with USU’s College of Science to create the Brooks Ogborn Student Teacher Rent Alleviation Program Scholarship.

The moment when something clicks and there is that “ding” of a lightbulb turning on that comes with understanding — that is what prompted Brooks Ogborn to become a teacher. After finishing his first year at Ridgeline High School in the Cache County School District, the math teacher said it makes him feel good to help students understand difficult concepts.

When Brooks was in high school, he would get together with his friends to study calculus and stats. Math became a puzzle that he and his friends would solve together, and Brooks realized how much he enjoyed explaining how he got to an answer. His love for teaching led him to Utah State University, where he enrolled in the mathematics statistics composite education program.

Because of excellent grades in high school, Brooks received both a Presidential Scholarship and a National Merit Scholarship. With a few setbacks, lots of hard work — including maxing out his class credit limit each semester — and enrolling in summer school, Brooks graduated from USU in May 2021 debt free.

Brooks was thankful for the financial help he received in college and decided he wanted to help other future teachers. In fall 2021, during his first few months of teaching, he worked with USU’s College of Science to create the Brooks Ogborn Student Teacher Rent Alleviation Program Scholarship. The scholarship will go to a math student teacher who is close to graduation, has financial need and is struggling to pay rent.

Brooks, fishing with his family over spring break with his niece. Brooks said it was a “perfect day of fishing.”
Brooks, fishing with his family over spring break with his niece. Brooks said it was a “perfect day of fishing.”

“I was lucky,” Brooks said. “I got a full-ride scholarship, another scholarship on top of that and my parents helped me pay rent. Without this assistance, I would have had to drop out of school for a year and work to save up money.”

Student teaching majors are required to serve as student teachers during their last few months of school and it can be stressful, Brooks said. Students in the major cannot have a job when they are student teaching because, along with a full load of classes, they are required to spend a lot of time teaching in a classroom. Creating lesson plans is time consuming, particularly for a teacher who is learning how to teach. Brooks wants to help alleviate some of that stress and is excited to essentially pay it forward before other life plans and financial responsibilities get in the way.

“I make a good salary, I don’t have a mortgage and live in a cheap apartment,” Brooks said. “Could I have saved my money? Yes, but I wanted to help and decided this was a great way to invest in the next generation.”

Teachers have a far-reaching influence and are arguably some of the most important members of society — they give students a purpose, set them up for success and inspire them to succeed.

“Being a good teacher is not all about focusing on academic excellence — you have to learn to pay attention to all aspects of the learning environment,” Brooks said. “Does the student have friends? Do they have support? When struggling students take home their first B+ in math because of the extra work and effort they are putting in — those are the moments to celebrate.”

In his classroom at Ridgeline, where he also spent his student teaching time, Brooks is his true and authentic self. The self-proclaimed nerd incorporates Dungeons and Dragons and decks of card in his lesson plans. He uses computer generated graphics during his lessons and, on practice test days and during study time, he plays records through the sound system. While most of his music selection is geared toward 80s and classic rock, his Kenny G. “Breathless” album is surprisingly, a student favorite.

The 23-year-old seems wise beyond his years, but as a teacher, he said he is still learning. He encourages his students to ask questions, not just of him, but to ask questions of their family or support system, whatever that may look like.

“Everyone needs some sort of parent or mentor whose advice may be hard to swallow, but what you need to hear,” Brooks said. “I have learned that my mom is generally right, even when I haven’t wanted her to be. I made some mistakes in college and she was by my side, pushing me to seek answers. I appreciate that now, and I am very thankful for her advice. Now, as a teacher, I try to emulate that quality and be there for my students.”

As social rights activist, politician and philanthropist Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” And Brooks Ogborn is not only changing his world, but is doing his part, both in teaching, and with financial generosity, to ensure the next generation of students will make an impact.

At USU, scholarships offer an unparalleled opportunity to chart a more certain course for deserving students. For many, scholarships make the critical difference in completing their degrees. Those interested in learning more about creating an expendable scholarship at USU, may visit https://www.usu.edu/advancement/give/scholarships.


Contact

Nate Lundberg
Science, Development Director
nate.lundberg@usu.edu


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