Ayeisha Strothers never realized the importance of education until she was older. After dropping out as a high school freshman she later earned her GED, associate’s degree and now a bachelor’s degree from New England College.
“I never wanted to regret that I didn’t continue my education later on in life,” Strothers said. “I did this for myself, and my children. It really starts with your inner self when it comes to motivation, confidence and goals.”
Strothers received a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology in spring 2016. But that is not the end of her education. The 29-year-old mother of two from Maplewood, New Jersey, plans to earn a master’s degree from NEC.
“I did something that I always wanted to do; however, I’m not done until I have the title ‘Doctor’ in front of my name,” she said.
An honors student from elementary until high school, Strothers left after her first week of ninth grade. At 17, Strothers came up short on her GED by five points in the math section – she scored 495 out of the 500 points she needed to pass. Ten years later and a month before completing her associate’s degree, she retook the GED exam and passed.
The motivation to earn a college degree was inspired by her daughters, as she wanted to set an example for them.
“I didn’t want people to think just because you have children and because you’re older, you tell yourself, ‘I can’t do this,’” she said. “That’s my motivation – to provide the best that I could for my kids, knowing that getting an education can lead to being successful in life.”
In fact, she and one of her daughters would work on homework assignments together.
“We sat down and did our homework together, which is very motivating for me to be able to do things together that we both feel is right. I have always taught my daughter the value of getting a good education.”
Her employer also was very supportive of her efforts to earn her degree. Before completing her undergraduate courses, Strothers was promoted to regional manager for Animal Riders, a company that rents motorized stuffed animals in shopping centers. As she works primarily from home, Strothers is able to focus on her job and studies.
Ultimately, she’d like to work with children. “I know there are a lot of children in the world that go through different types of phases in their life. It can be behavioral or it can be just developmental disabilities,” Strothers said. “I want to have a more in-depth exploration of why children behave the way they do, and use that knowledge to solve their behavioral problems.”
Strothers talked about her desire to work with children and how she managed to balance school and work.
How did you select your degree program?
I picked developmental psychology because I have a big heart, and I want to work with children. I look at children with a different perspective than other people. I just want to be that open arm that says, “Hey, you know, listen, let’s talk about this,” and just see what I can do to make a difference.
How do you manage your time and schedule?
Since I work from home, usually I would get up at 7 o’clock and I would drop my daughter off at school. I would do my work from home up until 1 o’clock and pick my daughter up at 3:15. From 3:15, I get her situated, then from about 5 o’clock until about 10 o’clock at night, it’s all study time for me. If I’m on the phone with another student, if I’m emailing my teacher, Monday through Friday – every day from about 5 to 10 o’clock – is study time for me. You have to learn how to manage your time. I would say, about 3 to 5 hours, 4 to 5 days a week to study, will make you successful.
What kind of support have you received during your studies?
My family has supported me from the time I decided to continue my education, starting with my old college, Essex County, where I received my associate’s degree, through graduation from New England College.
My [NEC student services] representative was fantastic. He helped me a lot. He really motivated me. He kept in touch with me, made sure I had my books, made sure I signed into my classes. I just couldn’t disappoint him because he’s been my representative since the first time I started.
What would you tell other students who are considering enrolling in New England College?
Being enrolled in an online [program], you’d think that you’d have to handle everything on your own. Along the way, I found out that my teachers were there to support me every step of the way. Unlike a traditional college experience, you do have the opportunity to receive one-on-one support from your teachers, instead of feeling like a number in a large class. I would definitely say give it a go. As far as the teachers and the staff, they’re very patient, understanding and supportive. And they’re willing to work with your schedule.