As the first college graduate in her family, Michelle Thornburgh was determined she wouldn’t be the last. While teaching toddlers in an Early Head Start classroom, she resolved to teach her own young children at home that a college degree is worth the time and effort. Now that her bachelor’s degree is in hand, she’s considering graduate school and eventually managing an early childhood education program.

Q: What motivated you to pursue your bachelor’s degree?

A: The motivation that helped me obtain my bachelor’s degree was my three children. I am a mother to three, ages 1, 3, and 5. When I began my career at Ball State I was expecting, and already had a 1- year-old and a 3-year-old. Balancing the children, pregnancy, and birth was sometimes a challenge. Along with my children at home, I also am a teacher in an infant and toddler classroom. Still, I am the first college graduate from my family and wanted to show my children that if you work hard at something, you can do it.

Q: How has your education influenced your professional life?

A: I have used my education often on the job. Working daily with children in a classroom setting provided me the opportunity to incorporate new ideas, teaching strategies, and skills learned through my courses and see them unfold in the classroom.

Q: How did instructors and advisors lend their support?

A: While pursuing my degree online, I had instructors that were very understanding. They took time to invest in me and answer questions through both email and phone conversations. Whenever I needed assistance, it was comforting to know that the instructors were there to assist in any way possible. My experience in the program has been nothing but positive. There is such a strong support from advisors and instructors.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have been a student the last two years at Ball State University. I have gained so much knowledge in such little time. My experience here is a testimony to encourage those who are beginning their educational journey. By working hard, being disciplined in my courses, and balancing a very busy home life, I was able to obtain my degree on time and with a grade point average that gave me the opportunity to attend the Teachers College dean’s list recognition ceremony.