Timely Counsel with Faculty Helps Clemons Finish Bachelor’s

“When professors go out of their way to try to reach their students and understand them as individuals, it speaks volumes,” says Vonda Clemons, who—with consultation from faculty and advisors—recently earned her Ball State bachelor’s online in early childhood education.

After earning an associate degree, Vonda left college for a few years before deciding to finish her bachelor’s degree at another Indiana school. She found the school was not a good fit and resumed her search.

Then She Looked at Ball State

When she inquired about Ball State’s bachelor’s in early childhood, she says a counselor made the transfer process easy. “She laid out the classes and made sure that I took the right classes in the right semester,” says Vonda, who is now a master teacher at TRC Head Start in Anderson, Indiana, for students ages 3 through 5. “When I emailed her about anything, she would get back to me in a timely matter.”

Another professor helped her decide whether she wanted to pursue licensure. Another set up weekly Zoom meetings to offer help with assignments.

Ball State’s program is designed specifically for child care professionals like Vonda, who have an associate degree in early childhood education, and are seeking positions that do not require a teaching license.

T.E.A.C.H. Made Tuition Affordable

“I worked full-time while pursuing my degree,” she says. “I knew I had to work so the online early childhood degree was a great fit for me.”

With her financial aid nearly spent by the end of her junior year, Vonda applied for a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship, a program designed to compensate qualifying students who demonstrate a commitment to the field of early childhood education. She says T.E.A.C.H. paid 90 percent of her tuition and books and provided a $50 stipend each semester.

“The T.E.A.C.H. scholarship allowed me to take classes that I would not have been able to afford at the time,” she says. T.E.A.C.H. counselors helped her get a waiver that allowed her to take more than two classes at a time.

Practicum Led to Teaching Position

Vonda completed her practicum at TRC Head Start, where she was initially hired as a teacher’s assistant. “I felt blessed to be able to do my practicum at my job and still get paid,” she says. “I became friends with the lead teacher, and she is now my supervisor.”

During the pandemic, Vonda taught virtual classes for two years, took her students and their families on virtual field trips, and connected them to the EPIC book club, a popular learning and reading platform, which introduces young readers to books in all languages and genres.

Wants to Make Greatest Impact

She also learned to enrich her classroom through DonorsChoose, a charity that funds requests for books, class trips, and supplies from teachers across the country.

Vonda knows her bachelor’s degree means opportunities for the future. “I enjoy working with families,” says Vonda, who is considering a master’s degree. “And I want to work in my community where I know I can have the greatest impact.”

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