Alma College junior Anne Cobble found her purpose in an education course.

In 2021, following the tragic mass shooting at Oxford (Mich.) High School, Anne Cobble looked around her hometown community and knew what she had to do.

Whenever she returned home, the 21-year-old junior saw examples of teachers and school administrators working to bring their community back to some semblance of normalcy. And then, while sitting in an education class she had taken simply to fill a requirement for graduation, Cobble decided she would change her major and work to become a teacher.

“I felt, sitting in that class and watching a video on helping special education students deal with difficult situations, like a lightbulb went on and I had found my purpose in life. It sounds dramatic, but believe me, it’s true,” Cobble said. “The teachers and staff in Oxford were people I knew from the time when I was very little and they have become my heroes. If I can make an impact on the lives of students in the same way that they have, I will make the world a better place.”

Cobble said she quickly found a home in Alma’s nationally-accredited education program, thanks in large part to the college’s liberal arts curriculum, which allowed her to seamlessly transition from one course of study to another. She is now majoring in secondary education and special education, with an English endorsement and a Spanish minor. Outside of the classroom, Cobble is gaining real-world experience through placements at Alma High School.

“The faculty we have at Alma have become my role models. I really appreciate that they aren’t just professors, they’re seasoned professionals. They know what’s happening in the field and they pass that first-hand knowledge on to students like me. I’m able to put that feedback to use and see results in real time,” Cobble said.

Outside of the education department, Cobble has found community in student groups like the Catholic Student Organization and the cheer and STUNT teams. She said Alma’s close, tight-knit community reminds her of her own hometown.

Cobble was in Alma when the shooting took place, but had family members and friends who were in the building at the time. She said if the opportunity to return to her hometown to teach after graduation presents itself, she would welcome it.