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Part of Western Governors University

September 29, 2020

Student Success

From autism diagnosis to special education teacher.

Natalie Mohn was about to celebrate her 13th birthday when she got news that changed her life. Natalie was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and was told she was on the autism spectrum. But while the diagnosis brought challenges, it also brought so many crucial opportunities and additions to Natalie’s life.

“The diagnosis brought a lot of support,” she said. “I was able to start building a support system at school that I didn’t have before.” 

Natalie felt she had found her calling in life around that same time. She recognized that students learned differently, and that there were unique ways to teach them. She found the idea of helping students harness their individual learning styles interesting and exciting. She knew that teaching special education was a path she wanted to follow.

Natalie eventually pursued an associate degree, and after graduating, she got a job as a paraprofessional in a special education classroom. This meant she would be working during the day, Monday through Friday. She knew if she wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree, a traditional school probably wouldn’t be the right fit.

“I wanted to find a program that would work around my schedule so I could work with kids and get a degree,” she said.

That’s where WGU came in. 

WGU offered Natalie the flexibility she needed. She was able to stay close to home because she could do her coursework from any place. She could keep her job because she was able to do courses in the evening after work or on the weekends. She didn’t have to log in to class at a certain time, and she could move through her courses as quickly as she mastered the material. WGU was exactly what she’d been looking for.

Beyond the perks that online schooling at WGU offered, coursework on classroom management, unique learning styles, specific subjects, and more all helped Natalie be prepared for her future as a teacher.

“Everything I’ve learned from WGU is applied in my job every day that I work with kids,” she said.

Now, Natalie is in her first year as a special education teacher. She has been able to use her own experiences to provide classroom support to students and has used her skills from WGU to connect to students with their own unique needs.

“It helps me find new ways to teach kids, and it just helps me be the best teacher I can for them.” 

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