Honored Graduating Student: Amanda Aamodt (BIO)
When BYU student Amanda Aamodt (’21) first saw the required ecology class on her schedule, she wanted to put it off as long as possible.
“I was dreading taking it,” she says. “I think the last time I was exposed to the topic of ecology was in ninth grade, and I hated it.”
But after taking the ecology course, it became Aamodt’s favorite class. She says BYU biology professor Blaine Griffen was the best she’s ever had: “He was always asking us how he could improve.” Griffen’s teaching was one of the reasons Aamodt chose to major in biological science education.
Although Aamodt didn’t know she wanted to become a teacher until two years ago, she always had a keen interest in how things work in the natural world. She loves everything she learned within life sciences, even if the class was difficult or the topic wasn’t her favorite. “I’ve changed my major I think five times, but I’ve always stayed in life sciences,” Aamodt says.
Aamodt is originally from Pleasant Grove, Utah. In 2016 she served a Spanish-speaking mission in Chicago. She now lives with her husband in Lindon, Utah, and she will start teaching biology at Jordon High School after graduating from BYU this April.
Her mission and experience as an EFY counselor exposed Aamodt to young adults, which helped her decide to teach high school. She also believes learning Spanish on her mission was an asset. “I think that played a big role in getting my teaching job because the school has a lot of Spanish-speaking students,” she says. “It’s been really cool to realize I can use my Spanish.”
Currently, Aamodt student teaches at Provo High School. Although she has worked as a teaching assistant at BYU, she was still nervous about teaching high school students. But once Aamodt started, she realized she was in the right place.
“Those ‘Aha!’ moments and when kids are excited and engaged are what makes me really like teaching,” she says.
Inspiring other women to pursue STEM careers is another factor in Aamodt’s choice to teach biology. She worked with BYU biology professor Liz Bailey on a research project examining the gender gap in STEM fields. The research consisted of interviews with male and female students and why they chose to stay with a STEM major or leave.
“It’s made me really excited to go into teaching K-12 because research has shown that those school years are a very influential for women deciding whether they want to go into STEM or not,” Aamodt says. She hopes that as a female biology teacher, young women will look to her and feel they also belong in STEM fields.