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Sawsan Qadadah, a former Liberal Arts student and English tutor at MATC, was in her first semester at Marquette University in Milwaukee — fresh out of high school — when her father was killed during a robbery. The loss derailed her education, and she went to work full time instead. However, she's now back on track, earning her Master's Degree and pursuing her dream job in education.
We asked her how she got to be where she is today.
When I was in high school, I had a clear cut path I wanted to follow. I was raised in a household where my father wanted his daughters to dream big. He taught me that although we might lose a lot in our lifetime as far as material things, what we learn in life and our education is a weapon that cannot be taken from us.
I remember him saying that we weren't adults in his eyes until we had college degrees.
Even though I had goals and deadlines I planned for, life always throws a curve ball to see what we are made out of. During my first semester at Marquette University, my father was killed during a robbery. It tore my family to pieces, and I felt no desire to continue school.
I told myself I have no choice but to drop out and find a full-time job.
I worked at U.S. Bank as a teller for about a year. Then I found myself at St. Francis Hospital as a patient service representative (where I stayed for 16 years).
Not too long after that, I gave birth to my first child. Paying the bills seemed more important than finishing school at the time. However, I knew I wanted more. I ignored the voice in my head telling me that it was possible.
It was after having my third child that I saw a clearer picture of what my future could look like. What if life threw a curve ball at my children's goals and dreams? Were they going to give up like me?
I told myself I would start small, test the waters, so to speak — take one or two classes at a time and see what I could handle with the responsibility of raising a family and working. I registered at MATC in 2010, and I remembered how much I loved school. (Nerd alert!) I craved more knowledge and completed my Liberal Arts degree in 2013.
I didn't want to stop there because I knew that I was doing this not only for my dad and my own children but for me.
I am lucky to live in a time when adults like me have a lot more opportunities to continue their education. The convenience of online schooling allowed me to receive my Bachelor's Degree in English, with a minor in Psychology. And my employer at the time provided me with tuition reimbursement for going to school while working, which helped.
I was able to do most of the work on my own schedule. I even began tutoring at MATC in English, Downtown and in Oak Creek, on the days I wasn't working at St. Francis Hospital.
I am happy to say I am back to where it all started. Currently, I work as a word processing technician in MATC's Registration and Records department, working with Credit for Prior Learning and Experience students. (This initiative gives students ways to earn college credit for what they already learned, say on the job or in the military.) This is where it all begins. It's the center of the school as students apply to start their own journey. It's very interesting to see how everything works from the beginning for a student.
I hope one day I can work as an educational assistant or an English instructor, since that is where my passion lies. I hope to continue my career path in education and help other students achieve their dreams.
There is one goal that I am close to achieving ... so close I can almost taste it. In fours weeks (in September 2018), I will be completing my capstone for my Master's Degree in English: Creative Writing.
What I have learned is that we all have dreams we want to achieve in life but, to do that successfully, we have to be open to the fact that there might be more than one way to reach our goals and that's okay — as long as we don't give up on ourselves.
My family has seen how hard I have worked since going back to school. I want to fulfill my goals while being a role model for my own children.
I would be lying if I said my dad wasn't a huge influence to my success. I always pictured him by my side, cheering me on every step of the way.
If you would like to chat with Sawsan, feel free to search for her on Facebook or LinkedIn.
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These stories were compiled during Fall semester of 2018. The tutors have likely achieved even more success — search them out on social media!
Gerald P., former Marketing and Math tutor, current restaurant general manager
Jessica S., former Nursing student and A&P tutor, current nurse and lactation coach
Mark R., former Spanish student and tutor, current penal system reformer
Matthew B., former Electronic Technology student and Math tutor, current fuel systems tech
Naomi M.F., perpetual student and former MS Office tutor, current educational assistant
Natalia D., former TV & Video and eProduction student and tutor, current TV news video editor and ed assistant
Sawsan Q., former Liberal Arts student and English tutor, current word processing tech
Shaun H., former Surgery Technology student and A&P tutor, current surgery tech