College of Southern Maryland (CSM) alum Cedrick Hawkins, ’20, is chasing his dream of becoming an elementary school teacher, author, and polished podcaster – professions and callings he said he didn’t know he had until he attended his first semester as a CSM student.

Hawkins shared that when he first came to CSM, he wasn’t clear about what he wanted to do with his life. The Calvert County resident knew he wanted to stay close to his family while attending CSM and work toward a transfer to Bowie State University, but he had no idea what that path would look like. 

And then, something happened during one of his first classes at CSM that planted a seed. A public speaking assignment in Professor Sarah Merranko’s Communications 101 class sparked his confidence in his voice’s power and ability to think on his feet. When students went home for remote learning in 2020 during the early days of COVID-19 and right before Hawkins graduated from CSM, that seed began to root. Eventually, it blossomed into his decision to start his podcast.

“At first, it was really hard to reach out and be vulnerable, so it took about a month for me to get started with it,” he said. “I made a list of 10 people who had agreed to be on my podcast. Now I’m at 117 episodes.”

The podcast, called CedTalks, covers many topics, from self-improvement and mental health discussions to offering tools and resources listeners can use to get through tough times. In his most recent podcast, Hawkins sat down with Calvert County Public School’s new Superintendent, Dr. Andrae Townsel. The latter talked about the importance of perseverance and offered tips on prioritizing his mental health. 

Hawkins shared that working hard at school, with the podcast, and writing poetry has helped him learn about others’ lives and caused him to reflect on his own. His two published books of poetry are another way he shares his journey and is meant to inspire readers to introspect, act, and “reach your mountaintop.” He said his next project is to write a children’s book that he hopes will provide young readers with the same confidence he discovered and achieved at CSM.  

Now, as he is preparing to graduate from Bowie State with a degree in Elementary Education while working as a student-teacher at Sunderland Elementary in a kindergarten classroom, he said he uses the listening and empathy skills he is honing by interacting with his guests to relate to his young students.

“I try to be humble about it, but it’s pretty cool to have these accomplishments to my name,” he said.

Hawkins also said that his family and friends’ encouragement has been instrumental in his success and in helping him reach his ambitious goals. His achievements and hard work since graduating from CSM led to his receiving support through the Federal Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program, which provides professional development, mentoring, and a paid internship to aspiring teachers. Hawkins was recently featured in an NBC 4 story about how this program is helping our region to battle the worsening teacher shortage. Listen to his interview in the video below.

Looking back at his time at CSM, Hawkins said he feels “nothing but nostalgia” and knows that it was the right place at the right time for him.

“Attending CSM allowed me time to grow in my maturity while saving money,” he said. “The biggest positive for me was the connections I made with the professors while I was there. They drove me, eased my transition into a four-year college, and helped me find my passion in life.”

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