At 44 years old, Air Force Veteran and WGU Missouri student Therese Meres is preparing to embark on her dream career as a special education teacher.
After serving in the Air Force for seven years in the 1990s, Therese decided to focus on earning her degree. She spent 11 years working on her associate's degree at a state college in Florida, while simultaneously raising a family, and graduated in 2011. After a three-year break and a move to the Midwest, she set her sights on earning her bachelor’s degree and enrolled at WGU Missouri in 2014.
“I was looking for an online university that allowed me flexibility to work at my own pace and schedule without the demands of a traditional classroom, and WGU Missouri was a perfect fit,” she said.
Now in her third year, Therese is finishing up her demonstration teaching and is getting closer to graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. She attributes WGU Missouri’s competency-based model to much of her success.
“Growing up, I always studied for tests and memorized facts, but WGU Missouri provided me with a new way to learn. I was able to demonstrate my knowledge and move on to the next course, putting me in control of my learning. The online format allowed me to do this on my schedule, taking some of the stress out of making time for a class.”
Therese considers earning her degree from WGU Missouri one of the best decisions she has ever made. “I love that there is no teacher to check in with, but if I do need help, a course mentor is available,” she said. “I love that I can get writing or math help through the writing and math centers, and I also am looking forward to using the career and professional development center as I build my resume and prepare for interviews.”
Therese has spent the last 12 weeks demonstration teaching at Parkway West High School in St. Louis and will spend the next few weeks teaching in a first-grade classroom at an elementary school in University City. She believes these opportunities will have her well prepared for her future career as a professional educator.
“Demonstration teaching has provided me with dual placements in a special education setting and a general education setting, and between those two environments, I have gained some unique experience,” she said. “I have been able to work with two host teachers in the special education department and have been able to see both a self-contained classroom and a resource environment. I was also able to teach an alternative English class. Obviously, my course of study cannot prepare me for every scenario I will encounter, but WGU has given me a strong foundation from which I can continue to grow as a professional educator.”
Therese has dreamed of becoming a teacher since she was about 7 years old and that dream will soon become a reality. “Earning this degree means so much in that I have finally reached a personal goal,” she said. “I feel I am setting an example for my children that no matter where you are in life, it is not too late to start working toward something you want. Now, in my mid 40s I am finally doing it. And it’s the best feeling ever!”