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Shari Davis had three goals when she enrolled in Western Governors University about 2 years ago: to finish her online teaching degree, have a classroom of her own, and improve her physical condition.
“I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in the third grade, but always let others discourage me,” said Davis. “I spent some time in a friend’s classroom who teaches second grade, and after that experience, I knew I needed to pursue my dream. I wanted to help children overcome obstacles.”
Davis enrolled in WGU's Teacher Collegebecause it allowed her to complete her degree online at her own pace. She accepted a long-term substitute teaching assignment and did her best to balance work, family, and school. Born with cerebral palsy, Sheri had watched her health and mobility decline over the years. The muscles in her body atrophied, causing severe pain in her limbs, neck, and back.
“I struggled. I became frustrated and even thought about quitting school. After giving every ounce of energy I had to my students in the classroom, I had nothing left to devote to my own education,” Davis said. “I felt like my dreams were slipping out of my fingers.
When Shari told her husband that she was ready to give up, he worked with her, and together, they implemented a nutrition and exercise plan to reverse her physical decline. She leaned on her WGU mentor and friends for guidance as she struggled to balance teaching and studying. Shari set a goal—she’d complete her teaching degree AND she would “walk” at WGU commencement. In January of 2009, Shari met that goal and took it a step further—she was one of four graduates invited to speak at Winter Commencement. When she walked across the stage to accept her diploma from WGU President Robert Mendenhall, Shari had lost 61 pounds and increased her mobility from barely walking to walking over 1200 feet without stopping. Today, she has her own classroom and is teaching fifth grade in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“As an educator, I teach students to ask for help when they need it. I had to learn to practice what I teach,” says Shari. “I realized that I could not expect my students to always do their best if I wasn’t always doing mine. With determination, I knew I could make my dreams come true while inspiring my students to discover and pursue theirs.”
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