By Jordan Beach
Crista Washington '15 spent her time at Reinhardt University challenging herself through new learning experiences, and that mentality of growth now carries into her professional life.
During her days on campus, Washington explored involvement in all areas of campus, such as cheerleading, Student Activities Council and leading the student newspaper, then known as the Hiltonian, as the editor. Washington put forth hard work in the classroom as a communications major with a public relations and advertising minor, earning placement on the Dean’s List and a spot in Reinhardt’s chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, as well as a Convocation of Artists & Scholars Award in 2015.
“My time at Reinhardt impacted where I am now in my career by providing me with a rich, rigorous and diverse educational experience,” said Washington. “The courses I took at Reinhardt were challenging and pushed me to think deeper. This experience played a huge part in both molding and shaping my perspectives regarding different topics.”
Washington’s experience at Reinhardt offered her opportunities to learn in a diverse community, an aspect of her education that opened doors to relationships in life after college and led to “unforgettable career opportunities.”
“It’s important that we step outside of our comfort zones to learn more about the people and the world around us,” Washington said. “By having that diverse learning experience, it has impacted my communication as an individual, enabling me to push myself further and positively increase my performance as a professional.”
Washington began her career as a communications intern and administrative assistant for Atlanta Public Schools’ Gifted and Talented department. She then interned for Fulton County Government’s External Affairs Department and through a promotion, worked for the county’s Registration and Elections Department as a voter registration coordinator. Before entering her current role, Washington worked as a business analyst for the state of Georgia’s headquarters for Child Support Services.
Now Washington uses her communications knowledge and experience with Teach for America in the Charlotte-Piedmont Triad as a corps member. She works alongside leaders from all sectors to influence the future of the country, ensuring that no matter where students come from, they all receive access to fair and equal education. Through her role, she is a fifth-grade STEM educator and has taught for three years.
“Since beginning my journey as an educator, I have seen many areas in education that need improvement in providing equal education for students in underprivileged communities. I have always had a passion for serving others and as a corps member, I am able to live out this passion while also making a difference in the lives of our future leaders.”
To strengthen her leadership abilities, Washington invested in several programs that enable her to continue learning and growing.
“Around my second year of teaching, I realized that in order for me to actually see any changes for my students, I needed to take charge. Therefore, I have taken on many leadership roles and participated in several development opportunities to become a more effective leader.”
One of these programs took place at Harvard University, known as the “New and Aspiring School Leaders” program. Washington felt she gained skills, tools and techniques needed to take on new leadership opportunities with confidence to better serve her school.
Washington is also pursuing a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins University, where she plans to graduate in May 2020 with a Master of Science in Educational Studies to further develop her skills as an educator and leader.
The choice to attend Reinhardt University is one Washington considers to be one of the best choices she has made to date.
“I was able to receive a well-rounded educational experience where the skills I learned in many of my courses have helped me flourish both as an individual and professional.”
As a thriving alumna, Washington urges students to take advantage of everything Reinhardt offers to its students.
“Explore all the opportunities that Reinhardt has to offer, whether its academic or extracurricular, each opportunity prepares you for life after college,” said Washington. “I know it sounds cliché but put your studies first. Accept that you will have challenging days but know that you will get through them.”