Love Fuels Online Special Education Student to Adopt Special-Needs Daughter

WGU Special Education Student Ann Clemente

"As long as I can remember, I have always had a heart for children."

For WGU online teaching degree student Ann Clemente, of Madison, Wisconsin, it’s this love of children that fills her life—and keeps it very, very busy.

For one thing, she’s a single mom. For another, she’s studying to earn her bachelor’s degree in special education online at WGU, with the goal of dedicating her career to helping emotionally wounded children.

And on top of that, she’s in the process of adopting a 3-year-old girl with spina bifida from Eastern Europe. In fact, in her rare free time, she advocates for adoption on her blog, Reach Out and Love

"I wear many hats in any given day, and sometimes I wear all of them at the same," Ann says. "Single mom, full-time special education student, full-time real estate executive assistant, orphan advocate, and in process of adopting."

How does she do it all?

"Well, the answer is simple—WGU," she says. "WGU has been a wonderful challenge in my life." She credits the online university’s flexibility, low tuition, and supportive online academic model with enabling her to do all she does and still make her education a priority.

"The flexibility of being an online student allows me the freedom and time to focus on other matters in this world that are close to my heart," she says. "Many orphans who are born with special needs and don’t get adopted risk being transported to a mental institution, some as young as 4 years old. These children will suffer a tragic and unfair childhood."

Her education is dedicated to becoming a kindergarten or 1st-grade teacher and helping students with special needs throughout her career. But it’s also dedicated to bettering the life of one particular child whom she already knows well: her son.

"I want to teach him that regardless of the situation or circumstances, any dream can be accomplished," she says.

You can learn more about Ann’s adoption process and advocacy, including information about adopting from Eastern Europe and adopting as a single parent, at

"I believe that every child has a destiny, regardless of their circumstances," Ann says.

Do you have a WGU story you’d like to share with your fellow students, alumni, prospective students, and other WGU Connection readers? Tell us about it on Facebook or tweet us @WGU.

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