At 42 years old, Jocelyn Heywood decided to go back to school at ENC and get her degree. She was a single mother. She had a job at MIT that she loved. She wasn’t looking to climb up a corporate ladder. She wanted to earn her degree for herself.
“Even when I got my degree, I didn’t switch jobs,” Heywood said. “Nothing changed. It wasn’t about moving up. It was about fulfilling that desire and getting my bachelor’s degree.”
Heywood found out about Eastern’s adult and graduate studies program when a friend recommended she look into it. She attended a free info session where she had an opportunity to see a classroom and meet some of her teachers.
“At that info session I signed up for classes,” she said. “Committing in that environment — I don’t think I would have committed if I was sitting in an office. I committed because I was sitting in a classroom, and I was looking around at people who, even though they looked different than me, we were very similar.”
Heywood said getting to know her peers was one of her favorite parts of the program. She said she enjoyed sitting in a classroom with people who were all working toward a similar goal.
She also enjoyed the connections she made with her professors at ENC.
“The diversity in faculty was very important to me and being able to get to know the faculty in that short period of time was probably the most valuable thing I had gained being a student at ENC,” she said.
Through the relationships she made and the things she learned in class, Heywood discovered her true calling – teaching.
“My calling is to teach, and I don’t think I would have seen that if I wasn’t able to go back to school and be taught by someone whose focus is on non-traditional students,” she said. “I know that at some point I will teach. I don’t know when and I kind of wanna get my feet wet, but the course work that I was able to take at ENC, the exposure to different kinds of faculty that weren’t regular college faculty — it has stirred something in me and I am grateful that I was able to go to ENC and have the opportunity to do this.”
For now, Heywood still works at MIT. She is now the administrator for the committee on academic performance.
“It’s my job to oversee that and advise students on their best course of action,” she said. “I’ve always been a freshman advisor, and I’ve always liked that part of my job, and now I get to carry that passion into a job where I’m constantly advising all students so they can accomplish their goals and graduate.”
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Heywood decided to go on to pursue her master’s at ENC. She expects that after she finishes that, she’ll go on to get her doctorate as well.
“I want to get my doctorate. I would love to get my doctorate,” she said. “If I could go back to school full-time, I would. I love learning in that sense.”
Heywood said she chose to stick it out at ENC and continue her graduate learning there because of the environment. She liked being a part of a faith-based community.
“Even something as simple as praying before class,” she said. “You had just worked an eight hour day at your job, and you needed an opportunity to decompress and then you were able to focus on your schoolwork. I didn’t think that was going to be important, but it became important for me. I saw this level of kindness even when we were having bad days or had to travel in the snow. We were just so supportive of each other and a lot of that came from coming into that building and being grounded.”
Heywood said she is grateful for her time at ENC and hopes others will see the value in not only continuing their education, but in doing that in a classroom, surrounded by a strong community.
“If I could express anything it is, there was value in the cohort model,” she said. “I found that that model worked really well for me and I have absolutely no regrets going to ENC. I’ve only gained and grown because I was able to get an education.”