Non-traditional Student: ‘It’s My Turn Now’

Non-traditional Student: ‘It’s My Turn Now’

11/16/2017 

Three schools and three kids later, Melissa Garrett came to SUNY Cortland to pursue a lifelong passion: the field of education.

The senior inclusive education major, who is concentrating in humanities, started on the path at Kennesaw State (Ga.) University in 1996 as an education major. Shortly afterward, Garrett decided to move to Kansas after her parents divorced. There she enrolled at Newman University, again as an education major. She moved a second time after meeting Ian, her now-husband.

In 1998, she and her husband moved to North Carolina and started a family. Garrett would be out of school for the next 10 years.

Garrett and her family moved to Ithaca, N.Y., in 2003 because of family support in the area. She enrolled in Tompkins Cortland Community College as a nursing major. At the same time, she worked nights at Cayuga Medical Center’s satellite operation in Cortland, N.Y.

“During this time, my middle child was diagnosed with autism, which prompted me to put school aside and focus on my kids,” said Garrett, 40. “Now my kids are at a right age where it is my turn.”

As a stay-at-home mom, Garrett was a freelance writer. She is the author of eight self-published adult contemporary and young adult novels and is currently working on two novels.

Before coming to SUNY Cortland, her interest in the field of education was reignited when she worked as a substitute teacher and teaching assistant at Belle Sherman Elementary School in Ithaca, N.Y.

 “When you ask me what I wanted to be at eight years old, I would have told you that I wanted to be a teacher,” Garrett said. “Having a son on the (autism) spectrum prompted me to choose inclusive education because I have seen how difficult public education has been for him.”

She is thankful for the time she has spent with her kids, but is eager to go straight to graduate school after graduation in Spring 2020.

Garrett is grateful to Ian, who has become more hands on with their children, and for her strong support network of friends and family.

“I do not have an outside job,” Garrett said. “My kids respect when I need time to study and understand I am doing this for the good of the family.”

Garrett is another reason why SUNY Cortland recognizes and celebrates dedicated students during annual Non-Traditional Students Week, which runs through Friday, Nov. 17, and features an array of activities.

The College will recognize notable non-traditional students throughout the week with a series of feature articles on the College website. You can nominate someone for recognition by contacting Non-Traditional Student Support Coordinator Cheryl Hines or by visiting the Non-Traditional Student Support webpage.

Read the stories of other remarkable non-traditional students that have appeared this week:

Julia West

Thomas Benedict

Andrew Siciliano

Kelly McKenna

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Navita Ramprasad 

 


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