Shelby Zahradnek

Shelby Zahradnek plans to teach high school students family and consumer sciences and art after graduation. When she isn’t studying, Shelby enjoys running, reading, drawing, and getting coffee with friends.

Get to know Shelby

  • Major: Family and consumer sciences education and studies, with an art endorsement
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Kalona, Iowa (Washington County)
  • Career goal: Family and consumer sciences or art teacher
  • Clubs/activities: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on campus, America Reads tutor
  • Awards/honors: 2018 Governor’s Scholar, Dean’s list fall 2018 – spring 2019
  • Favorite place on campus: Lagomarcino courtyard, anywhere with coffee
  • Most influential ISU mentor: Laura Van Waardhuizen
  • Favorite class: ASL 101, Elementary Sign Language
  • Why Iowa State: Initially came for great design program, stayed to pursue FCS education, great community

Shelby Zahradnek advocates for student mental health as future FCS, art teacher

Shelby Zahradnek is preparing herself to be an advocate for her future students by combining her experience with Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), self-expression through art, and her background knowledge of mental health.

Shelby involved herself in FCCLA her freshman year of high school. She joined because of her older sister’s involvement in the club, but stayed as she came to admire the values it instilled in its members.

“As I got further involved with FCCLA, I fell in love with growing strong leaders. I also loved the community service we did,” Shelby said. “I really liked building leadership skills and relationships.”

Serving as the club’s social media chair and secretary, Shelby got to use her skills as an artist to help promote club meetings and events. Art is an important part of who Shelby is; she hopes to work as an art teacher in the future. A sophomore in family and consumer sciences education and studies at Iowa State University, Shelby is also working on attaining her art endorsement so she can teach high school students about her two favorite subjects.

“I could never see myself leaving school and not coming back,” she said. “I love kids and helping others learn.”

Shelby’s biggest goal is to be a teacher that her students can trust and lean on for support when they need it. She and close friends battled mental health issues throughout high school; ensuring that students are supported and in a healthy mental space is a cornerstone of Shelby’s teaching philosophy.

“Teachers have such a big impact by being there for their students — that plays a lot into why I want to be a teacher,” she said. “I struggled with my mental health in high school, and I always felt so secluded and singled out.”

Shelby knows that her passions for teaching and campaigning for mental health, and the breadth of experience she has gained from FCCLA and Iowa State will merge to make her the teacher she hopes to be.

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