How I Did It: Nicole Yemothy ’10

Despite the challenges she faced, Nicole Yemothy earned her graduate degree to build her dream school.

Posted on January 1, 2012

By Dawn Reiss
January 2012

Nicole YemothyDEGREE EARNED: MS in Education (MSEd) with a specialization in Integrating Technology in the Classroom (Grades K–12)

HOW I PAID FOR IT: Student loans, grants, a full-time job teaching at Middle Creek Middle School in Kent, Wash., and decorating cakes for extra money

HOW LONG IT TOOK: Three years. I transferred after one semester at a local college and then changed my specialization at Walden, which required additional courses.

WHAT ELSE I WAS DOING AT THE SAME TIME: As a widow, single parent of a teenager, and Army veteran, life keeps me busy. As a middle school science teacher, my other 150 “children” add to my schedule, too. Family always comes first, so I also help my parents, who have disabilities.

WHEN I STUDIED: Whenever and wherever I could. From early morning hours while my son attended ROTC classes to late-night sessions once he had gone to bed. Thanks to Walden’s MobileLearnSM, I was able to take my reading with me on my Nook and iPhone. Never being without a journal article or assignment outline helped me use downtime to my best advantage.

LOWEST POINT: I’ve survived a career change and cancer, but when my husband, Tim, committed suicide, a lot of people thought I’d imploded. Honestly, some days I didn’t know how I’d get out of bed. But as a mother, I had to figure out how to live for my son. During my first year at Walden, I was run over by a snowboarder, leaving me broken and bruised. Typing with two casted arms was interesting, but the bed rest from the injured hip gave me time to study. I often tell my students, if I can survive everything I’ve been through and graduate, you can too.

HIGHEST POINT: Participating in graduation is a memory that will last a lifetime. Walden welcomed me as an alumna and truly made me feel celebrated.

BEST THING MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS DID TO HELP ME: They understood my schedule and I was welcome to participate when I could. My son was a great help and made dinners and lunches. He is also a killer cookie maker—my reward for getting work done. My partner and best friend, John, has also given me outstanding support and helped me stay focused.

WHAT KEPT ME MOTIVATED: Knowing that in order to build my dream school, an academy for foster girls who are not adopted by the age of 12, I needed my master’s and, now, my doctorate. It’s helped me push through the challenges, the exhaustion, and the low points.

BIGGEST CHANGE IN MY LIFE SINCE GETTING A DEGREE: I was selected to be the new technology academy teacher at my school—out of 45 candidates. The Kent Technology Academy is a small learning community within our school that focuses on using 21st-century technology on a daily basis. I have also used my technology and leadership skills to become a member of our district technology cadre and an adjunct professor at a local university.

MY NEXT BIG CHALLENGE: Completing my Doctor of Education (EdD) with a specialization in Teacher Leadership at Walden. Once I have earned my EdD, I will pursue my dream of building Starlit Skies Academy.

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