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Elizabeth Dannen


Bold Points






I am an elementary education major focused on becoming the most compassionate, gentle, and academically-driven educator I can be.


University of Sioux Falls

Bachelor's degree program
2019 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Elementary Education and Teaching
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching


  • Desired degree level:

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Education, General
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:


    • Dream career goals:

      Kindergarten Teacher

    • Tutor

      2021 – Present3 years
    • Assistant

      Lil Friends Learning Center
      2021 – 2021
    • Call Taker

      Five Star Call Center
      2017 – 2017
    • Afternoon Assistant

      Creative Steps Childcare Center
      2019 – 20212 years


    • independent

      South Dakota State Art Show
      2015 – 2015

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      independent — deconstructor
      2019 – 2019

    Future Interests



    Tim Gjoraas Science and Education Scholarship
    My entire education has been a struggle. With a father that was gone during the week, traveling for work, and an alcoholic mother with neglectful habits, school became a home away from home. However, even with the peace of being away from my stressful home life, my grades still suffered. I bounced around from family members' homes, who would watch over and care for me and my brother, and we often had to rewear clothes from the day before. I lacked in personal hygiene habits and having a meal consistently was scarce as most food intake was snacks or processed foods that were easy to microwave. I didn't have time to understand educational content at home, or even consider it as a necessary step to advance through school, as most my time was spent simply trying to survive. As I got older I started to realize my home life wasn't "normal". Other kids didn't have to deal with the repercussions of having a mind focused on only survival. While I was forced to find a way of coping through the stresses of what was going on at home, I found a love for school and the ability to learn new content. By junior year of high school I was having fun in my classes, and the ACT was a proud achievement for me, but I wouldn't have found my love for school without the incredible teachers that helped shaped me into an efficient and focused student. My geometry teacher talked me through the tears of my grandma being in hospice and failing a test due to it. My English teacher created a safe space for me to vent about the emotional weight of my mother's addiction and the toll it took on my mental health. My American history teacher's classroom became a spot to stay when I wasn't quite ready to drive home to chaos. Each of these teachers' efforts to make me feel safe and comfortable at my home away from home added to my ability to progress through school with ease and confidence. During my senior year I applied and was accepted at the University of Sioux Falls. I had plans to attend school, those plans were secured, but I had no idea what I was going to major in. Soon after my acceptance I started working at a daycare with children ages three to five, and immediately formed a passion for working with littles. This is when the idea of being a future educator came to fruition and I started plans on how to get there. As a first-year education major, students are required to complete an interim course for practicum experience within a local school district's classroom. I was assigned to a first-grade classroom in a low income neighborhood. My time spent here showed me how other students were going through the same situations I had gone through. Students would often show up in clothes they wore the day before, carrying unfinished assignments, and many of them had frequent absences. The teacher of the classroom understood these circumstances and provided grace and compassion for the students who were suffering from less-than-ideal home situations. She taught me empathy for these students and taught me strategies for helping them. Growing up struggling with school and seeing how a teacher's concern and care toward these students can benefit their mental and physical health and academic progress, as well as an ever-growing skill set from working with preschool children, I formed my passion for education. I will be the teacher that creates a safe and welcoming space for every child.
    Amplify Continuous Learning Grant
    Working with children has always been appealing to me. Even when I had no experience, I still knew I wanted a future with young children. In January of 2019 I started working at my first daycare. This is also around the time when I applied to the University of Sioux Falls for elementary education. First day of work, I knew I chose the right career path. I now currently work at a different daycare with slightly older children, more school-aged, and it's been a great way of building my experience! This grant would give me the chance to pursue the kindergarten endorsement that I want to add to my major to specifically work with kindergarteners or give me a higher pay at a daycare with pre-schoolers (which is my favorite age)! The kindergarten endorsement requires I take three addition classes at my university and half of my teacher residency be done in a kindergarten classroom. This grant would allow me to do this with far less expense!
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Looking into a mirror in my family's only bathroom, I wanted to punch the glass and end everything right there and then. I was 9 years old. That was the first time I had ever thought about hurting myself, a way to feel because even at such a young age my needs were not met-- physically nor emotionally. Now, a decade later, I'm still struggling, but now I have diagnoses to explain why I feel the way I do. Sometimes my feelings are overwhelming and catastrophic, looking back I suppose they always have been. When I was 16, my grandma passed away. It took a big hit on my mental health, as I was already struggling with depression and anxiety, now I was struggling with grief. It made me shut down and push away everyone in my life. I made two attempts on my life that year, and to this day her passing still hurts, and it always will. I know that now, but I also know it'll come in waves and not every wave is tidal. On my 18th birthday, I didn't know how to feel. I truly believed I wouldn't be alive to celebrate it. All of my hopes and aspirations that I was "supposed to have" didn't exist. I hadn't applied to colleges like my peers. I didn't apply for scholarships or seek out ways to pay for my future. I didn't expect a future. Now I'm almost 20 and I'm now starting to form my goals and values, even my boundaries. Seeking out help for my mental illnesses helped me find my place in the world. I know confidently now that I want to be an elementary teacher and work with kindergarteners, and I know I'll be good at it despite my diagnoses. Sometimes it can be a challenge to feel this way. How can I be a good teacher when I'm bipolar, have anxiety, traits of a personality disorder, and am taking several medications? How can I be a good teacher when half of my week is devoted to individual and group talk therapy? Those thoughts sit in my brain like a tumor, but now I'm realizing that taking these steps and precautions have made me that "good" person I've always been jealous of and wanted to be. I can finally go outside and actually enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face. I can find purpose within myself with each daycare job I have and each education course I take. The world doesn't have to be so bad if you allow yourself to enjoy it. That was my biggest setback, and I'm glad I've learned to give myself permission to be happy.