As a first-generation degree seeker, Ashford* alum Elizabeth Perdomo readily admits she did things backward when it came to attending college. She met her husband at the age of 20, got married young, and had her first son by the time she was 24. Her daughter was born a few years later and with her hands full, earning a degree wasn’t in Elizabeth’s cards.
However, that’s not to say Elizabeth hasn’t always understood the value of a great education. It was while working full time as a Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) teacher at a local Florida charter school that she decided she would like to become an elementary school teacher someday.*
“I wanted to be able to show both my children that we all have different routes in life,” says Elizabeth. “We all start differently, but if you want to reach your dreams and your goals, you can do it.”
So, in 2008, at the age of 38, Elizabeth enrolled at Ashford and graduated only a few years later with her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science.**
Eventually, as her children grew older, Elizabeth again began thinking about making a career change.
“I still wanted to be in education because that’s my passion,” she explains. However, she wanted to move into the world of higher education. With a bit of searching, Elizabeth got a job as a coordinator at Florida Southwestern State College in Fort Myers.
Her new role came with new benefits, including partial tuition reimbursement, if she wanted to pursue a graduate degree.
“I thought about how much I enjoyed Ashford the first time, and how well it all worked out for me even while doing the program while working full time, and I realized I wanted to go back to school,” recalls Elizabeth. “My husband, he’s always so supportive, he said, ‘You know I’m here for you, whatever you want to do. Just do it.’ And so, I did.”
In 2017, she once again enrolled at Ashford, this time to pursue her Master of Arts in Education.
“It was difficult, I’m not going to lie,” she admits. “I’m not going to say it was a walk in the park; it was not. Learning things at an older age is just a little harder than when you’re younger.”
One of the trickier aspects for Elizabeth was learning all the new technology her courses required. She recalls that things had changed a bit since she was last in school at Ashford nearly a decade earlier. Luckily for her, her son had an affinity for computers and would help his mom out when she got stuck.
“The thing I do like is that my children got to see me actually going through school,” says Elizabeth. “They saw me frustrated. They saw me when I was struggling in a class. They saw me when I had good moments. I never hid any of that from them. It allowed me to show my children that if you really want to do something, you can do it.”
When she only had a few more classes to go before earning her master’s degree, Elizabeth did encounter an unexpected hiccup. Her boss wanted to give her a promotion. However, the only way she could offer it was if Elizabeth graduated by the summertime.
“I said, “oh my goodness, how am I going to do this?!” So, I called my academic advisor, and he said I would have to take a couple of classes at a time***, but we can make it work. And I said… ‘well, let’s do it, let’s make it work.’”
Elizabeth did it, successfully graduating despite a heavy course load. Immediately, she was offered that promotion.
As the first in her family to graduate from college, and now with her graduate degree, Elizabeth says she’s been blessed to be able to share her story as a tale of encouragement amongst her own students.
“We work with a very diverse population, a lot of first-generation graduates,” she explains. “It’s nice for me to be able to tell them that they absolutely can do this. They end up looking at me being Hispanic, and they can relate to that.”
Although she may have been the first to graduate, Elizabeth didn’t get to retain her title as the only college grad in the family for very long. Her son recently graduated and is working as a computer software engineer, and her daughter is only a semester away from graduating from nursing school.
“Look at your goals and look at where you want to be, and if you are unhappy where you are now, look to make a change,” she says. “When you have these types of opportunities, you need to make the most of them.”
*Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus.
**Certification and Licensure Terms and Conditions
An online degree from Ashford University does not lead to immediate teacher licensure in any state. If you want to become a classroom teacher, contact your state's education authorities prior to enrolling at Ashford to determine what state-specific requirements you must complete before obtaining your teacher's license. Ashford graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a state-by-state basis that will include one or more of the following: student teaching or practicum experience, additional coursework, additional testing, or, if the state requires a specific type of degree to seek alternative certification, earning an additional degree. None of Ashford's online education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which is a requirement for certification in some states. Other factors, such as a student's criminal history, may prevent an applicant from obtaining licensure or employment in this field of study. All prospective students are advised to visit the Education Resource Organizations Directory (EROD) and to contact the licensing body of the state where they are licensed or intend to obtain licensure to verify that these courses qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits in that state prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state's policies and procedures relating to licensure as those policies are subject to change.
***This program is no longer accepting new enrollments.
****Concurrent Course Registration Policy Concurrent course registration may occur when the student is fully admitted and has completed the first two courses of the program. The student must be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. Progression and prerequisite requirements cannot be violated. Two concurrently taken courses is the limit. Academic Year credit maximums may apply.
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.