Story by Micah Oelze
Photo by Brittney Seger
Terria Ashby is by no means a traditional student and she knows it. Ashby is a 45-year-old grandmother returning to college to study early childhood education through BARTonline.org, Barton Community College’s online learning platform.
Ashby works from home running a childcare center, where on an average day she takes care of seven children.
Teaching and caring for children comes naturally to Ashby, from “playing school” as a kid to watching over her siblings and babysitting as a student for income.
Through these experiences she began to strengthen her passion for working with youth.
“You get to see them grow and develop,” Ashby said. “No two days are alike and no child is the same. It is just experience after experience. There is nothing like it; it’s just fulfilling.”
That fulfillment led Ashby into early childhood care for five years. When she became a single mom she shifted gears, working in the medical field as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Years later Ashby re-married and saw a need in the childcare sector as her medical co-workers were struggling to find caretakers who could watch their children at odd hours.
“I knew I wanted to go back and that was just the perfect timing,” she said.
Ashby wanted to obtain a professional edge over her peers through education not only to be competitive, but most importantly for the children.
“I get a little more expertise and knowledge to pay it forward to the children that I get to take care of,” she said. “I want to help drive them to a better future.”
Expanding her education meant Ashby would need to choose the right school.
“Choosing Barton, that was an easy one,” she said. “Barton has the entire program online and its efficient for me. The online format allowed me to take classes with my busy schedule.”
Through working with her advisor, Ashby learned Barton accepted Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) scholarships and grants, which to her was invaluable.
“Without the TEACH scholarship, I couldn’t have attended,” she said. “Barton met all of my needs.”
Like many students who are new to online education, Ashby had some worries but was pleased to find her online experience to be extremely positive.
“The online structure was simple to navigate,” Ashby said. “They provided me with as much knowledge as I think I would have learned in a classroom. It was just overall a great experience.”
Ashby said she encourages everyone to pursue their passions, and accept the sacrifices needed to make them happen.
“I may be a grandma, a mom, and 45 but you don’t have to give up,” Ashby said. “As long as you have a stable support system and are willing to put in the effort, it can be done.”