ALMA — Dalanie Mott doesn’t mind admitting it now: When she started out as a first-year student at Alma College, she felt a little hesitant to put herself out there and meet new people.

Now a junior, Mott is one of the most visible student faces on campus. As a Senior First-Year Guide, she is responsible for organizing those who help new Scots navigate their transition to campus during orientation and over the course of the first term.

“At some point, I just realized, ‘I need to make the most of this opportunity while I’m here,’” said Mott, an elementary education major from Alma. “It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made since I joined the college. There are so many opportunities here for people who are willing to take them.”

Mott was a 2021 recipient of the Alma College Community Engagement (ACE) Scholarship award, which rewards students for their active volunteer service and involvement in their schools and local communities. As part of the ACE program, Mott has an internship with a local nonprofit organization, His Place, and receives 1-on-1 guidance from Alma College staff on how to best serve the agency.

“With the ACE program, we’re encouraged to find something we’re passionate about and make it our own,” Mott said. “My work at His Place involves working with children after school, which aligns perfectly with my goals for after college. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to chart my own path and do something that’s going to help my future career.”

Following graduation, Mott intends to work as an elementary school teacher. In addition to her work outside of class, Mott believes that her work in class has been a big boost to her career prospects, thanks to small class sizes that offer her lots of time with faculty who have experience in the field.

“The relationships that get built in these classes, between you and your classmates, and you and your professors, help you understand the material much more than you would be able to in a larger class,” Mott said. “Our professors are able to hold our hands through anything we don’t understand, and if we have an issue with it later, they’re so communicative.

“My classmates and I work together on so many things, which is going to help me prepare for a collaborative workplace after college. I don’t know how my friends in the larger state schools are handling it, not being as close-knit as we are here.”

Mott had a “transformative” experience this past spring, taking a Spring Term course through the education department, “Teacher Leader.” During that course, explored essential leadership skills necessary for crafting learning environments that stimulate creativity, innovation and collaboration. They did so through hands-on workshops and experiential programs at Disney World, in Orlando, Fla.

“It’s really the perfect class for a future elementary school teacher — and of course, the setting is the happiest place on Earth,” Mott said. “It was a lot of fun, but it was also a really important class, something that taught us all the difference between being an ordinary teacher and being a ‘teacher leader.’ I’ll never forget those lessons.”

Mott is looking forward to working as a Senior First-Year Guide her junior year: helping lead a new class of students and telling them about the many opportunities that are available at Alma College.

“I don’t want anyone to be in the situation that I was in, where they didn’t want to put themselves out there. This place has been such a great fit for me, and I think it has potential to be a great fit for so many people. If a student seeks me out, I’ll be glad to help them find that fit,” Mott said.