Hilary Ball admits she looked down at physics majors who were about to graduate and were considering teaching high school. She says she just didn't think it would be the best use of their talents. Ironically, high school students will soon be looking to her to explain how learning physics can help them become their best.
"I thought if you were trained in physics you should do something with that training and apply it," said the 22-year-old from Savannah, Tenn.
But things change. An excellent high school student with more of a humanities bent, Ball decided to pursue physics because, "It was by far the hardest class in high school and someone has to do it, so it might as well be me."
At MTSU, Ball had the grades for graduate school, but veered off in a different direction after participating in an English professor's interdisciplinary seminar requiring a community outreach component. She decided to teach the phases of the moon and planets to a second grade class. And that's all it took.
"I loved the eureka moments ; the looks on their faces when the light went on," she said. "And I thought, 'Hmmm, I think I am going to get my certification.'"
Ball is fascinated with the wonder of physics and the beauty of what it reveals, which might explain why she was ultimately drawn to teaching.
"How come that planet is blue? It must be something in the atmosphere," Ball said, recounting a few of her own ahhh haaa physics moments. "And the fact that we know how stars grow and die -- it's amazing that we can know that. When I started to study and found out we discovered such things, I said 'I want to be a part of that.'"
And soon she'll be part of a profession that will include passing along the wonder of physics in the job description.