Katherine Bumgardner walked across this year's commencement stage full of joy, pride and love for her wonderful, supportive family. As a two-time Brandman University graduate, we are happy to feature her journey from being a once aspiring teacher to becoming an inspiring educator, leader and lifelong learner. Here is Katherine's story in her own words.
I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher so upon graduating high school I started taking classes at my local community college. It was during this time that I met my now husband and was blessed with a beautiful baby girl at my young age of 19 years old. Needless to say my dreams of teaching came to a sudden halt.
I spent the next four years being a mom, wife and real estate agent. My career in allowed me to take my daughter with me on showings and gave me the flexibility of being my own boss but I always felt like my heart was in the wrong place. Time went on and my husband and I were blessed with our second child, a baby boy. While I was enjoying every minute of being a mom, I could feel my dreams of finishing school and becoming a teacher slowly slipping away. Then one day when my son was eight months old, I decided that I needed to pursue my dreams, not only for myself but for them.
The more I watched my babies grow the more fascinated I became with their development which led me to take some early childhood development classes. I started back taking just two classes a semester, slowly increasing my credit count as my workload became more manageable. Within a semester I was working in the lab school at the children's center and I had begun to live my dream.
As time continued on, I finished my AA degree in social and behavioral sciences and decided that I wanted to continue on to get my bachelor's degree. Brandman came highly recommended to me as a school that is appealing to the adult working parent so I met with an advisor and the next thing I knew I was registered for classes. Just 13 months later, I was holding a diploma in early childhood development.
That adventure I set out on ten years earlier had finally come to an end. The sacrifices made were extreme. I would watch my children and husband attend movies and parties while I stayed home to study, and I stressed through holidays instead of relaxing because I had a paper due the next day. In the end it was worth it and my children got to see what hard work and dedication gets you.
Upon graduating I was offered two preschool director jobs which was beyond everything I could have ever dreamed of. I ended up taking ten months off before ultimately deciding that I wanted to go back for my master's so that I could not only become a better leader, but also so I could eventually teach future early childhood educators.
I sat down with my children and husband and discussed my desire to return to school. After receiving their blessing and support I made a call to my advisor to talk about my next academic plan. A few months later I started my first master's of education course work Brandman and eight months later I was walking across the stage to receive my degree.
As I took those steps toward the commencement stage I spotted the smiling faces of my babies. I was so choked up watching them as they clapped an waved because they were my true reason for going back to school. They are my biggest supporters, my motivators and my inspiration. I am glad I was able to demonstrate to not only them, but to every working parent who thinks its too late, and be able to tell them that as long as they have a dream, they can reach that dream as long as they are not afraid to set out on the journey.