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Like many Ashworth students, 2022 Graduate of the Year, Tiffany Whitter, was a working mom looking to advance her career in the elementary and middle school system. As a paraeducator working with children with academic and behavioral challenges, promotion opportunities were coming up, but she didn’t have the credentials needed to fill the roles. Tired of missing out, she made the decision to go back to school to advance her degree and job prospects.
Tiffany’s main concern when deciding to go back to school was whether or not her already busy schedule would allow her to add this extra responsibility. Tiffany’s father had heard of Ashworth College, so she looked into the school and what programs they offered that would best help her get the promotion she wanted. The Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology fit with the goals she had in mind, but she also wanted to make sure she had a program and school that would suit her lifestyle.
Ashworth did just that, providing her with the necessary flexibility to work on her degree from her home in Bermuda. It’s important to note, though, that it wasn’t always an easy time.
“Working full-time, being a wife, and a mother of two children while trying to complete my Psychology degree proved to be challenging … I saw many late nights, studying, taking quizzes, reading class material, and writing papers …” she explains. She sometimes felt like giving up, particularly when she was feeling overwhelmed or tired, but her determination and the understanding from Ashworth that pushed her through. “Just being a working mother and having a program that understands that people do want to advance their careers, but time isn’t always on our side; Ashworth gives you that time to pace yourself,” she explained.
Because many of her struggles centered on simply trying to juggle life, Ashworth’s self-pacing helped make the necessity of scheduling a little easier, allowing her to devote a certain amount of time to her studies every day. Needing to be very intentional with her time after work, her plan was to dedicate four to five hours every night for studying, quizzes, and writing papers. Working and having children meant that this study time would happen after 8 p.m. “That was my cutoff. Everyone had to leave mommy alone and I’d be buried in my computer.”
Tiffany also found it very important to include her family in what her goals were and her plan on how to achieve them, so they would know what exactly she could do, as well as prepare them for things she couldn’t, such as simple household tasks like making dinner or folding laundry when she had to study.
“As mothers, we want to do everything, but I had to have a family meeting and say ‘this is what I’m doing, this is what is going to help catapult me into a different realm in my career …’ If you have people around you, explain what you’re trying to do and this is the type of time you’ll need to achieve what it is you’re trying to achieve.”
Tiffany found support outside her family, too. Like many other students going to online school for the first time, there was a concern about being left on her own to figure things out, even if she were struggling with coursework. “There were a couple courses where I was a little shaky. I had a statistics class that I was like ‘oh boy!’ But anytime I reached out to Ashworth, someone was always available.” Any issues Tiffany had, whether they were about classwork or even payments, someone was there on the phone willing to help. “I never felt like I was alone, even though it wasn’t in person.” This school support gave her a sense of comfort, helping to push her along even further.
Now, Tiffany sees just how closely her Ashworth coursework relates to her job. “Working as a behavioral specialist, a psychology degree works hand in hand. I could see how it was actually applicable to my job. It increased my knowledge on so many levels.” She’s now taking that knowledge and pursuing a Master’s in Education in School Counseling, with the ultimate goal of being a school counselor and opening her own private practice.
“My passion is to help people thrive in life.” Additionally, two months after earning her bachelor’s degree, she applied for a promotion and got the job! She gives credit to Ashworth for opening up the doors to new opportunities. “The best advice I was given was ‘don’t look at your current life situation. Think of the life you want to live.’ With a degree comes promotions, financial benefits. Though it may seem hard, keep that end in view. What is it that you want to get out of it and what is the benefit for you? Always think about how your life will improve.”