The Patriot Heritage Scholarship for Social Studies Education was established by Matilda James Smithers M.Ed. '51 to offer assistance to an academically distinguished graduate student pursuing a degree in social studies education. In April 2010 this award was presented to Sarah Wright, who was then pursuing a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Social Studies Education. Sarah distinguished herself as an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech graduating Magna Cum Laude.
Sarah's immediate family immigrated to the United States from England. At that time, she was given tremendous opportunities to pursue her academic aspirations. After graduating from Herndon High School as a recognized National Honor Society scholar, she enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) program at Virginia Tech. Sarah said, "As a first generation college student with a burgeoning interest in history and politics, I focused my studies on social studies education. In addition to social studies, the IDST program permitted me to explore a variety of disciplinary interests including literature, Africana studies, and African-American studies. As a leader of several student and honors organizations, as well as a proactive student who participated in two student-teaching internships, undergraduate research, and teacher assistantship programs, I am prepared and excited to pursue teacher education at William & Mary.
"Attending the College of William & Mary is truly an honor," she said. "After carefully considering other programs across the country and within Virginia, the School of Education at William & Mary became my first choice boasting a comprehensive social studies education program which simultaneously appealed to my personal learning style preferences (small classrooms, advisor accessibility, etc.)."
"Being accepted into this program gives me the opportunity to learn, utilize and combine new teaching methodologies and research technologies with the valuable disciplinary knowledge I obtained as a student at Virginia Tech. Upon graduation in May 2011, I plan work in the Commonwealth. Staying in Virginia is an easy decision. To live and teach in a state that has contributed so much to this nation's history is exciting; Virginia has so much to offer students and teachers alike. Also, due to the respectively close location of all regions of Virginia to Washington D.C., there is the potential to instill students with a sense of civic responsibility, lessening the fallacy of political inactivity among young adults, as well as developing an active awareness in government processes citizens of all ages can impact. As a secondary school teacher, I aspire to utilize the legacies of past generations as a reflection of current political and economic conditions to produce critical and analytical students."