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Partnership enables students to pursue passion for education in home communities

By ECU News Services | July 30, 2021 | Community Health, Community Partners, Investments

Teacher using tablet with children in preschool during coronavirus outbreak

Brittany’s story

Brittany Robertson can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a teacher.

“I was always playing teacher as a kid and always knew that is what I wanted to be,” she said.

After graduating from Edgecombe Early College High School, the Tarboro native gave nursing a try to support herself and her son, but she realized that teaching was in her heart.

“I love seeing the look on a child’s face when they learn something or something intrigues them,” she said. “I love the way kids admire their teachers and the way children are little sponges for information.”

Brittany didn’t think she would be able to pursue a bachelor’s degree at East Carolina University (ECU). Then she learned about Partnership Teach. The program aims to increase the number of teachers in the state by offering affordable, online degree completion for students who want to teach in their hometowns.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is proud to invest in this mission with ECU.

“At Blue Cross NC, we recognize that part of improving rural health means taking a closer look at all the factors that have the greatest impact on overall health,” said Cheryl Parquet, director of community engagement and marketing activation at Blue Cross NC.

For Brittany, Partnership Teach offered a chance to pursue her dream.

“The flexibility of the part-time option and all-virtual courses drew me in,” she said. “It made me realize there was a program that I could be successful in with my busy life and being a mom.”

Brittany Robertson (Contributed photo)

Eman’s story

The program also opened new doors to Eman Hanshali, whose strong sense of family and community has always led her back to teaching in rural schools.

“It is important to me to be able to help those in need of assistance in any way that I can,” she said. “The children are the heart of this community and I want to leave an impacting imprint on them that will allow them to strive and excel in what they believe in.”

Her little sister was her inspiration. Eman saw how she was struggling and lacking confidence in her abilities as an English as a second language (ESL) student who was also held back in first grade. Eman had faith in her sister and knew that she just needed encouragement to succeed, so she worked with her to help her overcome her obstacles.

“She had finished with the most growth in her class and seeing how she was able to achieve all she did was something special for the both of us,” Eman said. “She was so proud of herself and what she accomplished, simply by having someone believing in her. When we remove our bias and labels from others, we are able to teach and have our students excel and exceed what they thought they never could.”

After completing her degree, Eman wants to help ESL students achieve and work hard to excel.

Eman Hanshall (Contributed photo)
Eman Hanshall (Contributed photo)

Brittany and Eman are two of more than 1,000 students who have completed their degrees through Partnership Teach. Of them, 89% earned their licenses and started their careers in North Carolina.

For Cheryl and for Blue Cross NC, the potential impacts are endless.

“A great education provides better jobs and socioeconomic standing,” Cheryl said, “which can really change the course of health in a community.”