Meet Jessica

Overcoming Adversity to Achieving Career Dreams

When Jessica Underwood was a little girl, her mother ran an in-home childcare center, and so it was from an early age that Jessica knew she wanted to care for others.

“Since losing my parents several years ago, I wanted to go back to school to pursue teaching,” she said. “That was their dream for me, but I had to switch curriculums in order to take care of them and still attend school. The certification I received was not where my passion was.”

Originally thinking she’d want to serve an older population, Jessica’s experience working at a local YMCA with children helped her look at the other end of the age spectrum. She was working with the Y’s after-school program, then she moved into the early childhood program. Jessica would help the school-aged children with their homework and would work with the younger children to develop some of their cognitive abilities through play.

“I have always loved helping children learn and be the best they can be,” she said.

With the thought in the back of her mind about returning to college nagging at her, she was also faced with the reality of going back to school – and what impact that would have on her finances.

“I wanted to go back, but I didn’t know how I could afford it. Money was an issue,” she said. “But once I found out about the resources out there, it was possible for me to obtain my certificates in Early Childhood Instruction and Early Childhood Education.”

With help from her advisors, Jessica was able to find financial support which allowed her to obtain two career certificates, and she’s on track to graduate in spring 2019 with her associates degree in Early Childhood Education.

“Turning 30 this year has a new meaning,” she said. “With this opportunity, I’m pursuing a life-long career dream of being a teacher.”

Jessica is already looking ahead to earning her bachelor’s degree and would like to work with children pre-k through third grade in the public school system.