It was 1993 when Angela Trench began her professional journey with an associate’s degree in hand, but her road to a bachelor’s was fraught with challenges and circumstances no one should ever face.
Her 17-year old daughter was murdered on Mother’s Day, a month before Trench received her associate’s degree. Somehow, Trench had to find a way to keep moving forward and continue providing for her two sons. She worked tirelessly, 10 years as a youth care worker in group home settings, then as a clerk at a hospital in Westchester, New York. She planned to go back to school, but with everything life had thrown at the native of Kingston, Jamaica, the time just never seemed right.
She wanted to advance at work, but the lack of a degree held her back. Answering the phone, people would often ask her what her position was at the hospital. Eventually, she grew tired of the answer; “a clerk.” After her son Shannon enrolled at New England College, she made up her mind that he was not going to get a bachelor’s degree before her. She called and enrolled online with the school, a brand she trusted and believed in.
“I told myself that one day I was going to say something else when someone asked me what my position was,” Trench said. “I stumbled when my daughter was murdered. I tried to rise above everything, but it seemed as if the time was never right to go back to school. Once I decided to go back, I was looking for somewhere I would be able to trust, and since I trusted NEC with my son’s education, I felt like it was the right place for me.”
The bond Trench formed with her NEC advisors was reinforced when she encountered difficulties. When Trench was struggling with the coursework or health issues, her advisors were on the phone to keep her inspired and believing in her ability to finish what she started.
During a 10-day hospitalization due to complications from diabetes, Trench spoke regularly with the NEC staff. Once released, she could barely walk and feared her grades would suffer from trying to do the work while in the hospital, only to be reassured by her advisors.
“I was in the hospital and I told my husband to bring my stuff,” she said. “I had my books on my bed and every time I’d open my eyes I’d go back to reading. I was so worried I would get a C. My advisor called me one day and told me I’d gotten a B+. Sometimes he would call me just to see how I was doing, and if I was thinking that I couldn’t do it, that it was too hard, he was right there telling me I could and supporting me.”
Having graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology, Trench hopes that she can now attain a position at work that will allow her to spend more time with her grandchildren. But perhaps just as important to her is the example she has set for her son Shannon, who is on the path to graduate from NEC a year after his mom with a degree in psychology.
“My New England College degree will make a difference in my life by giving me a better opportunity to get a good job,” Trench said. “I want to help my son financially and to be able to go visit my grandchildren. And I feel that by getting my bachelor’s, I’m pushing my son to see that this is no joke. Don’t wait until you get to my age to do this. Do it now. I’m pushing him and showing him that he too can do this.”
Trench spoke with us about her experience at NEC.
What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
The advice I would give to a student who is considering enrolling in an NEC online program is to study hard, and to take advantage of the help that is given. Most of all, it’s important to use the Danforth Library (a campus-based resource all students can access) which I found is a great help.
What is your most valuable takeaway from the program?
My valuable takeaway from this program is the way in which the professors are available to help through emails or their own cell phones. Some of the professors gave their home number so they could be contacted if we couldn’t reach them by other means. This program is definitely designed to help both the old and the young to further their education without going in a classroom setting.
What were the most important factors in your decision to choose NEC?
The most important factor in my decision to choose NEC online was my expectation that I would gain knowledge to further my career. Another reason why I chose NEC is because my son is also attending NEC, and I wanted to encourage him and set an example of how important it is to stay in school. I realized that NEC had professors who cared about what the students were learning.
What was your favorite class and why?
Psychology is my favorite class, because it teaches us how our biological make-up can influence the things we do. Our biological influence can lead to violence, the things we do in our culture, our family, relationships, and the life we live.
Who or what inspires you to succeed?
What inspires me to succeed is my desire to want the best. My inspiration to succeed also came from my mother who believes that hard work brings success. There were two things that I wanted so badly in my life, and I knew when I found God things would fall into place. I found God, and now I am on my way to receive my BA in Psychology. I am diabetic with high blood-pressure, so not feeling well on a daily basis is not new to me. I will not be defeated by my illnesses, because my goal is to achieve greatness, and succeed in whatever the Lord guides me to do.