While studying the interdisciplinary biology and society major at Ivy League Cornell University in scenic Ithaca, New York, Tina Ahmadi thought she was preparing for medical school.

She liked the fact that the program merged science and the humanities and considered ethical and philosophical questions. But when she realized that medicine might not be best for her skills and interests, she suddenly found herself without career direction.

“I ended up wandering quite a bit,” says Tina, who recently completed the transition to secondary teaching program to earn her Indiana teaching license.

In Muncie, She Finds A Better Way

From Cornell, Tina returned home to Yorktown, Indiana, and became a caseworker with Muncie’s A Better Way Services, a nonprofit providing shelter and crisis intervention for victims of domestic violence.

At A Better Way she helped the children of residents with homework and enjoyed watching their reactions to the science experiments conducted by a volunteer who was a middle school science teacher.

Meanwhile, as she considered careers in clinical psychology and medical physics, Tina enrolled in Ball State’s non-degree courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology.

In time, she learned about the transition to secondary teaching program.

Imagination Leads to Education

“For some reason I hadn’t considered teaching,” says Tina. “And then something clicked. I began imagining myself teaching and thinking about all the great ways that education combines human connection and empathy with science.”

The transition to secondary teaching program is an 18-credit program that can be earned online in four semesters. It includes a 16-week student teaching stint and gives students ongoing support from accomplished educators.

Tina recently finished her student teaching assignment, which became a temporary full-time position midway through the semester, at Wes-Del High School in Gaston, Indiana, where she taught math and science. She says a veteran teacher at Wes-Del checked in with her several times each day and “was generous with his time and knowledge.”

What She Learned from Levine

Jill Bradley-Levine, director of the transition to teaching program, has served as another key mentor.

“I have benefited from her comments on assignments as well as comments and suggestions she makes after watching me teach,” says Tina. “I feel like there are a lot of people looking out for me who want me to succeed, and I’ve never felt this level of support from a program before.”

One reason Tina is enthusiastic about teaching high schoolers is because she hopes to share what she’s learned about college-career transitions.

“Best Deal in the World for Me”

“I want to make sure my students explore opportunities and career paths and get to learn about their options well before college,” says Tina, “so that they can make more informed decisions about their paths.”

For her, a transition from career uncertainty to teaching high schoolers who are, in her words, “kind, brave, humorous, energetic, intelligent, and creative” was more than she could imagine.

“I am always overjoyed when I see a student grasp a challenging concept,” says Tina. “Even though I am technically the teacher, I get to learn and grow from interacting with them. It’s the best deal in the world for me.”

Begins Full Time

Having earned her license to teach at the middle and high school levels, Tina begins a full-time teaching position in fall 2019 at Pike High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Because the program offers the option to apply transition to teaching credits to a master’s degree, Tina will apply her 18 credits to Ball State’s master of arts in secondary education.

In what will be a full year as a new teacher and a seasoned student, Tina will finish course work for a double master’s in biology and education in 2019-20.