On Feb. 18, a panel of former graduates from the Family and Human Studies Associate degree program shared their success stories of life after Salt Lake Community College.
The hope is that by sharing the students’ professional experience will show that the SLCC program provides a comprehensive preparation that promotes a solid understanding of child development that is essential for succeeding in this field.
The forum, “Planning Your Future” was organized by the Education, Family and Human Studies and Social Work Department. It was held at the IAB on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
“This is the time to work with children – they are the future,” assistance professor Sally Schramm says. “We need strong educators, people who know about young children.”
Schramm introduced the forum discussion saying that the purpose of this forum was to hear from former students how SLCC’s Family and Human Studies program prepares them for a successful and rewarding career.
Many reasons motivated the panelist to get enrolled in the program offered at SLCC.
“I knew that I wanted to work with kids,” says Lisa Cuestas, who transferred to the University of Utah and earned a bachelor’s degree.
Cuestas indicated that the preparation and practical training at SLCC is effective because her principal told her that she has never met a teacher that doesn’t need to be mentored.
“If you know that you want to work with kids this is the program you need,” says Cuestas.
Cuestas, who is now a first grade teacher, was able to get a job four months before graduation from the University of Utah.
“I wanted to make a difference,” says Cuestas.
Sarah Atherton looked around for options and discovered that the SLCC program was very convenient because it transfers easily.
“It pays to go to SLCC,” says Atherton. “I graduated really quickly because I transferred a ton of credit hours.”
After getting her associate’s degree in 2001, Atherton earned a Bachelor in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education at the University of Utah in just one year after finishing at the SLCC. She is now a Center Licensor at the Utah Department of Health.
“I still use the stuff I learned at SLCC,” says Atherton. “Thirteen years later I’m still using it.”
Jamie Galloway, who graduated last year and is working as a full time teacher thinks that the classes and practical training she got at SLCC gave her an advantage at work because she performs beyond expectations.
“I think that the program you have set up, really gives you an edge,” says Galloway.
Kim Bird, who graduated in 2012 indicated that there are many opportunities in Utah for education.
Bird is now a part-time preschool teacher and is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Child Life at the University of Utah and volunteers in a local children hospital.
Angela Hamilton, who graduated in 2012, says that she did not have skills in organizing a classroom and handling a curriculum. With the right classes and practice, she gradually acquired the necessary resources and knowledge to be able to manage children and their educational setting.
“As I went through the program I thought I was in the right place,” says Hamilton, who is now a teacher and completing her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education.
Hamilton took advantage of the lab school, which offers actual practice in the school setting offered through the Family and Human Studies program.
“I learned so much about class organization and curriculum,” says Hamilton.
She was able to get a job with just her associate’s degree because she felt confident after finishing the program.
Shanae Schouten, who graduated last year and is now a teacher, indicated that once you finish the associate’s degree you gain actual experience.
“It gives you that experience so that you actually go [into the] classroom and implement it,” Schouten says.
Kelsey Brown, who graduated last year and is now pursuing a bachelor degree in Human Development and Family Studies, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education at the University of Utah, pointed out that the ePortfolio, which is now required of all SLCC students, has been an effective tool in the field.
Brown included all her practice from lab schools in her ePortfolio. It gave her an edge among her professional peers when looking for a job.
The panelists suggested volunteering to complement studies and increase potential employment opportunities.
“Volunteering gives you connections,” Bird says.
Many of the panelists have found different places to volunteer such as in hospitals and schools to enhance their skills and experience.
The panelists agreed that although teaching is not a lucrative field, it is certainly a very important job. There is a need for people to advocate for children education.
They all expressed the unique opportunity to be educated at SLCC, which later gave them the opportunity to work in a field that made a difference in the life of children and their parents.
“It is an incredible thing to be part of,” Hamilton says.