Korinne Mortensen, Elementary Education

"Rather than focusing on the negative things in your life, turn to the people that are on your side and figure out what your goals are."

Overcoming Bullying and Other Obstacles

Korinne Mortensen is studying elementary education at Utah Valley University with the goal to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. However, Mortensen didn’t always know she wanted to be a teacher. As a child she loved elementary school, had great teachers, and was even far ahead for her grade level — but things changed when she entered middle school.


“I ran into some bullying issues which made me hate school and I really started struggling,” she said. “I started falling behind and I barely graduated high school, so I didn’t even want to go to college let alone teach other people.”


After high school, Mortensen took a job teaching riding lessons at a horseback riding farm. “I didn’t really have any direction in my life and I made some bad choices,” said Mortensen. “I was just really struggling.”


Mortensen said there was one experience she had which made her rethink her life. “I realized I had people who cared about me and I completely changed my life,” she said. “I served an LDS mission which made a huge impact on me and shaping who I am.”


When Mortensen returned home from her mission, she attended a community college for a short time and then decided to transfer to UVU.


“I just had a lot of things to figure out,” she said. “Once I realized I would really love to teach kids, I started to focus on school.”


Mortensen especially enjoys working with kids who have autism.


“I didn’t realize I wanted to go into autism therapy when I started my major but I started working as an RBT (registered behavior technician), and fell in love with the kids.”


“I love seeing the progress,” says Mortensen. “One of the kids I worked with, his only goal was to eat food by himself without throwing a tantrum or being aggressive — he was completely nonverbal. I worked with him for two years and in that time, he went from being this kid who was completely nonverbal, who really struggled, to speaking! I was there the first time he spoke which was incredible because they didn’t think he was ever going to speak. He’s now reading and writing and he’s on grade level. Just seeing the happiness that his mom had when she found out he said a word, it’s really rewarding.”


Her advice to other students is, “Rather than focusing on the negative things in your life, turn to the people that are on your side and figure out what your goals are. It was really hard for me to have a desire to go to college and to do well in school when I didn’t know what I wanted out of it. Figuring out what you really want out of school and out of life in general gives you a lot more reason to do well in your classes and in life.”