From a late major change to an outstanding senior award

By Addie Nabholz ’25

As Bailey Erickson ’24 went into the second term of her sophomore year, she realized she wanted to change her major. Erickson began college as a religion major and after working with the Department of Education, she will be graduating with a major in secondary English education and a minor in religion next December. Not only is she graduating with a secondary English education degree, but she is also English education’s Outstanding Senior for 2024.

“Wartburg prepared me for education as a whole. The classes that I had while being an education major were very informative. Teaching wasn’t a dream of mine until my sophomore year of college. So, when I got into it, I was very worried that I was going to be behind or that I wasn’t going to understand it. I literally jumped in and was taken in with open arms and was told, ‘Yes, be a teacher and we will give you the tools to do that,’” Erickson said.

Not only did the education classes at Wartburg give Erickson necessary information, but they also gave her a place to practice putting that information to use.

“When I did field experience, I was put to work. I wasn’t just sitting in the classroom doing nothing. I was able to work and honestly, I loved the field experience because I learned so much more outside of what they tell you in class,” she said.

Bailey Erickson

Erickson loved field experience so much, she cried as she left her first placement.

“I was so upset, but also so happy. It’s bittersweet because I loved the place where I was at. I loved the teacher. I literally will never forget her,” she said. “But I cried as I was leaving because I didn’t want to leave this place. I loved it here. I also felt so much better about changing my major to education because I felt so comfortable in the classroom. It was so unreal to me and unlike any other feeling I’d had on campus.”

While Erickson experienced plenty of hands-on experience in her academics, she also gained valuable experience leading student organizations. Erickson is the president of Kantorei and Wartburg MINDS, an organization that brings awareness to mental health on campus. She is also the co-student director of Service Trips, and a student manager in the Academic Resource Center.

“Working my way up the ladder to be in the leadership roles has been really impactful for me. I learned how I handle situations with conflict and interact with other people in positive ways as well,” she said. “Conflict management is a lifelong skill, especially when you’re going to be a teacher.”

Within these organizations and academics, Erickson says she found her “chosen family,” including her fiancé, Jonah.

“Wartburg stands out because of its size. It’s small enough that it is very easy to meet people and stay connected with them. That’s how I met so many of my friends. We’d meet in a class and then next semester, we’d have another class together,” said Erickson.

There is one thing Erickson wished she knew before coming to Wartburg.

“One thing I wish I knew before coming to Wartburg is probably how easy it is to change your major. That was huge for me because I changed my major in the second semester of my sophomore year. That’s unheard of and I’ll still graduate in four and a half years,” said Erickson. “That’s what’s nice about liberal arts colleges. I say this to every incoming student that I talk to you, if you come here and you start with one major it’s very easy to switch to another.”

As Erickson reflects on her time at Wartburg, she has a couple of favorite memories.

“Christmas with Wartburg is definitely a favorite memory. I get chills singing in the choir. We hit some sort of harmony in a song and I’m amazed. I think another favorite memory is probably the service trips I went on. I went to New Orleans and Louisiana, and I led one to Atlanta, Georgia, and I loved them all,” she said.