College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2011 > Returning Adult Student Set to Graduate with Teaching Degree in August

Returning Adult Student Set to Graduate with Teaching Degree in August

Vickie Allen plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in elementary education this August.

Vickie_Allen.jpgby Marilyn Perez (March 2011)

“Honey, I need to talk to you.”

About two years ago, Vickie Allen said those words to her husband of 17 years. Her news was that she wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree for the first time.

“I always felt like I should’ve gone to college,” Allen said. “I’m achieving something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

For many years, Allen had worked at a credit union, at a law firm, and as a health care clerical worker. She also volunteered for a Parent-Teacher Organization and has served as a substitute support staff.

“When I was working in schools, I knew I wanted to be a bigger part of that,” Allen said. “And, when I was at my last job, which was in the health care, I thought, ‘I don’t want to be doing this for the next 20 or 30 years.’ One day, sitting at my job at the doctor’s office, I realized that I could pursue a different path.”

That’s exactly what she did.

Allen transferred from the Pennsylvania College of Technology to Penn State's University Park campus in the fall of 2009. She will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in August.

Being an older student has not been a challenge for Allen, as she said she has formed great bonds with some of the traditional students.

“As an older student in the class, I want to fit in, but I know that I can’t completely fit in,” she said. “At the same time, I know that they’re in the same situation as I am as far as getting work done. We’re all in the same boat in that sense.”

One thing that helps pull Allen through this journey is her support system. Allen and her husband, Michael, have two children: Cody is in the ninth grade and Jessica is in the seventh grade.

“One time, my daughter made a sign that said, ‘Don’t Enter’ and put it on my door,” she said. “They knew not to come in while I was studying because they knew I had a lot of schoolwork.”

Additionally, her husband has been playing the role of “Mr. Mom.” Even though he is working full-time as a welding instructor at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Michael has been cooking most of the meals and taking care of household tasks, like making sure the children are on track.

Allen said her experience with motherhood will give her a different perspective on the world of teaching.

“My kids have already been through elementary school, so I know what happens when homework goes home at night, what the struggle is like, and what the parents are going through,” she said. “I want to be able to tell my parents that I understand.”

Allen is currently student teaching at Marion Walker Elementary School, which is part of the Bellefonte Area School District.

“I’ve learned a lot about how some lessons work the way you plan them, but most of them don’t,” she said. “Each time you teach a lesson, you have this captive audience just looking at you waiting for the next thing. It makes you say, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do.’”

Upon graduation, Allen hopes to get a teaching job near her hometown of Jersey Shore. She would also like to pursue a master’s degree in English as a second language or in reading education.