Aspiring Teacher Makes a Difference at Veterans Resource Center

Like many children in military families, Rachel Lowe grew up moving around.

That was a fact of life with a father serving in the Army Reserve and Arkansas National Guard for 31 years, including a tour of duty in Iraq. Her family crisscrossed the state and rarely stayed in the same place for more than a couple of years. It wasn’t until much later that she was able to put down roots.

“Moving around was hard at times. There are these childhood friends from fourth or fifth grade, and I have no idea where they are anymore,” she said.

Today, the closest place she considers a hometown is Maumelle, where she lived long enough to stay at the same high school.

That cycle of relocation at a young age made Rachel deeply passionate about serving a cause bigger than herself. This display of commitment to her family led her to the СӰԺ, where she is pursuing a degree in secondary English education at the СӰԺ College of Education. At the same time, she works in the Veterans Resource Center, a campus resource that aids veterans and military dependents in transitioning to college life and advises on the benefits available to them. Ready to graduate in December 2023, she is preparing for licensure for seventh through 12th grade.

A Father’s Deployment Overseas

In 2008, her father’s deployment to Iraq required a shuffle for childcare. The family had to make arrangements for her and her younger brother, Colby, while their mother worked as a registered nurse. They moved back and forth to their grandparents’ house, who lived nearby and helped with the load of caring for two children. “It was hard on my mom,” Rachel remembered, “even though I didn’t fully realize the severity of the situation at the time.”

A young Rachel Lowe hugs her father, Raymond Lowe, before his deployment to Iraq in 2008. Submitted by Rachel Lowe.

Not being able to speak to her father was the hardest part, she said. If something notable happened at school — a good grade or some funny encounter on a playground — she immediately wrote a letter for her mother to send overseas. Then every two weeks they were able to talk on the phone.

Despite not being physically there, her father always seemed to make his presence felt. He planned ahead to make sure Rachel and her brother received gifts on their birthdays, buying presents and writing long letters beforehand to be stowed away for months.

“It definitely makes you appreciate the quality time that you do have with your parents,” she said. “Because we missed a part of my childhood together, it made me want to strengthen our relationship. It makes me glad to just be able to text him and get dinner when we can. Our relationship is so accessible today.”

Ultimately, childhood helps shape interests. Being around her grandfather, a second-grade teacher during that time, inspired her career choice. When tagging along to run errands, she saw how their trips always meant one of his old students approaching to share how his lessons changed their lives.

“Since then, I’ve felt like this is the way to make an impact on kids,” she said.

Since pursuing her education degree, she believes that experiencing different school districts and teaching styles has influenced how she wants to teach in the future. The senior is banking on her insight helping when settling into student-teacher roles and later applying for jobs after graduation. “Because no two school districts are the same. I’ve been to schools with tiny class sizes. I’ve been to larger schools. They’re all different in their unique ways,” she said.

Making A Difference at the Veterans Resource Center

Until she reaches the classroom, she gets fulfillment in her work in the Veterans Resource Center and supporting СӰԺ’s 400 veterans, active service members and their dependents enrolled in classes. Along with her fellow student administrators at the Veterans Resource Center, she finds it easy to identify with them because they all belong to that same community.

Together, they help incoming students take full advantage of their benefits, including those that help pay for their education. She can connect with them because she, too, draws from the same benefits and once got help from students in her position.

“I immediately understand where they are coming from because I was there once. I wouldn’t be in school right now without those benefits,” she said. “For a person getting help from the Center, it helps to speak to someone who knows what’s going through their mind.”

Sharing how these benefits can help these students has been a driving force for Rachel. As an incoming freshman, she didn’t know about her benefits until halfway through her first semester.

“If you even think you might be eligible for these benefits, it’s easier to check and be done with it than not knowing,” she said. “I wish everyone will be comfortable to ask us questions because a lot of the issues we get are because they were too scared to ask. And it could have been solved easily on a five-minute phone call.”