From Au Pair to Master's Degree

When Monika came to the United States from Slovakia at the age of 19, her plan was to work for a year as an au pair, and then return home having learned some English.  The first course she took was English as a Second Language at a local adult school. Soon, she had a dream — to learn English well enough to go to college and become a teacher.


Monika spent the next 16 years working full-time as a nanny, and for 12 of those years she has been going to college. Unsure of how to begin the process of going back to school, Monika enlisted the advice and support of the family she was working for in her search for programs. They were also flexible in scheduling her hours so that she could continue to care for the family's children and go to school part-time. After mastering English, she applied and was accepted to a local community college, and in five years she completed her associate's degree by attending part time in the evenings.

In 2007, she graduated from the community college with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in early childhood education. Monika was admitted to a dual-degree program at a four-year college, which would allow her to earn credits toward both a bachelor of science in behavioral studies and a master of arts in teaching. Monika finished her B.S. in 2011 with the highest GPA of all undergraduate adult students and received the college's Provost Award for achievement. 

Monika started taking graduate level courses while completing her undergraduate degree, and this year she will receive her master’s degree and her teacher’s certification in the state of New York. When she started college, the children she was watching were 6 years old, 3 years old and an infant. When she receives her diploma at the end of May, the children will be 17, 14 and 11. While working full-time caring for the children, she was disciplined enough to complete her homework on the weekends and in the little spare time she had.

Monika’s advice to any adult student returning to school: “Focus on the journey, not the destination.” Her journey began with an airplane ride from Slovakia, and will end with her master's degree in education. This philosophy has allowed her to enjoy the schoolwork and embrace the people she has met along the way. With her degree, she will be able to take her love of children and pursue her new career as a teacher.

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commented 2013-12-25 03:08:15 -0500 · Flag
Thank you