DAVENPORT – The imprint of the education and community Dawson Laubenstein experienced at St. Ambrose will never fade. He hopes the footprint he is leaving behind is just as deep.
On Dec. 19, Dawson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry Teacher Education. He plans to be a high school teacher, and while chemistry is his expertise, he is qualified and willing to teach in whatever science classroom he is needed.
“I am very excited to go out and get a job, to start living my dream,” he said.
Dawson came to St. Ambrose as an honor student, carrying a love of chemistry that was sparked in high school and a love of teaching that was sparked working as a summer camp counselor. His decision to merge both of them into a career was easy. The workload was not.
Chemistry is a rigorous program requiring advanced math courses and labs. The Teacher Education program also is academically intense, requiring hundreds of hours of K-12 classroom observation, field experience, and a semester of student teaching, which Dawson just wrapped up at Pleasant Valley High School in Riverdale, Iowa.
“It is something that definitely can be done but it is very hard. You need a lot of incredibly supportive people in both fields to rely on,” he said, adding, he had it. His friends, including those in Chemistry Club, encouraged him every step of the way. Professors from both academic programs guided him and made sure he was on track to achieve his goal, as well as interested and fully engaged in what he was learning.
Getting high schoolers excited about chemistry can be difficult, something he learned while student teaching. It is a challenge for which he was prepared. “Part of it is you have to meet them where they are because, for a lot of them, some of these sciences can be hard to manipulate and extremely hard to understand. I try to find ways to relate it to them and their everyday lives,” he said.
Dawson Laubenstein ’20
Graduating on Dec. 19 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry Teacher Education, Dawson plans to be a high school teacher, and while chemistry is his expertise, he is qualified and willing to teach in any science classroom.
Dawson made his own choice to follow in the family footsteps. His parents, Scott and Mary Beth Laubenstein, are special education teachers. Their words and actions, as parents and as educators, set examples he plans to follow.
His mother always encouraged Dawson, and her students, to give it their all and keep moving forward. To never give up.
His father showed him it is OK to step away and take a break when needed. “If you are not feeling 100 percent your best, then you are not going to give your students 100 percent of your best,” Dawson said.
From them, he also learned to always be honest and supportive in the classroom. “To praise a student when they accomplish something, but also to praise a student when it is necessary, when it is needed. I learned all of those things from my parents and I definitely want to apply those as a teacher,” he said.
Dawson was active on campus and in the community, too. He was a four-year member and past-president of the Chemistry Club, served two years as a resident advisor, worked two years for campus security, assisted people with special needs during summer breaks, and the Eagle Scout continued to be active by assisting his Boy Scouts of America home Troop in Rockford, Illinois. “At St. Ambrose, I also got to expand my faith. It was great having a church on campus. I’ve been Catholic all my life so having that ability to keep going and learning about my faith was a wonderful thing,” he said.
Dawson cannot say enough about the great friends he made, the supportive professors, and the students he got to know from diverse backgrounds and life experiences that he likely would never have met anywhere else. He is grateful for each experience he had at St. Ambrose.
“I will miss walking around and interacting with the community. I will miss all of the faculty and friends I made in the Chemistry and Education departments; all of the people who helped me push through these past 4.5 years. I am just going to miss this place,” he said. “You leave a lot behind when you leave. I just hope the footprint I left behind had a great impact.”