Angela Pawlicki ’11 spent years at home raising her two daughters before she decided it was time to go back to school. Her story was like that of so many other women: she started college, but didn’t finish. She got married, had children. It wasn’t until her mid-30s that she decided to go back to school.
“When my youngest daughter started kindergarten, I thought, ‘I can’t sit home,'” Pawlicki says. “I started off one or two classes at a time, and it took me five years, but I got it done.”
At 41, she earned her degree in elementary education/special education from Towson University, starting at the University Center (formerly the Higher Education & Applied Technology Center) in Harford County and then transferring to Towson’s main campus in Baltimore County.
Now her daughter is enrolled in the same program, just two and a half years after Angela’s graduation. Makayla, 20, just earned her associate degree at Harford Community College. She will finish her bachelor’s at Towson University in Northeastern Maryland, where the program is offered as part of the 2+2 program. It allows students who earn a two-year associate degree at HCC or Cecil College to finish their bachelor’s degree from Towson University without having to come to the Baltimore County campus.
For the younger Pawlicki, it’s a perfect arrangement.
“I am so excited to be a part of a program that will give me so many opportunities,” says the 20-year-old. “I went to school in Harford County, and through this program I will have first-hand experience and teaching internships here.”
The younger woman appreciates what she and her mom can share now, but knows the TU program will let her chart her own course.
“I feel like my life is finally falling into place,” Makayla says. “I am going to a great university, and I am in the best program for my degree. I have wanted to be a teacher for so long, and finally seeing that dream being reached is amazing.”
Her mom’s dream came true immediately after her graduation in 2011. Angela became a special educator at Fallston Middle School in Bel Air. The school incorporates its special needs students into its programming, which makes Angela’s knowledge base particularly important.
“I love the fact that everything I learned has been so relevant,” Angela says. “We were in the classroom right from the very beginning. We saw every aspect of the classroom day. And I just felt so prepared to take that job.”
For Angela, succeeding as a college graduate and finding a teaching job immediately were more than she thought possible. She says the classes with other students close to her age encouraged her and gave her the extra confidence she needed to succeed. And her good working relationships with her professors, mentor teachers and administrators helped open doors, as did networking opportunities in small classes and individualized attention from faculty.
“The professors took a tremendous interest in our success,” Pawlicki says, describing how her instructors observed her in classrooms, offered suggestions and critiques, and even help her when she’s looking for an idea now. “They got to know us personally and were able to help direct us professionally. It was just much more of a personal experience.”
And now it’s a family experience, too. Makayla starts at TU in Northeastern Maryland this fall.