- by Mount Saint Mary College

For Olivia Valdes of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., heading back to college at the age of 27 enabled her to pursue an exciting new career as an educator.

“Going to the Mount to pursue an English degree, without a doubt, has been one of the best decisions I’ve made,” she noted. “I can’t say enough positive things about the English program at Mount Saint Mary College.”

Valdes graduated from the Mount in December of 2021. Her professors, she explained, contributed greatly to her confidence as a student and future teacher: “They want you to succeed, and will challenge you to think bigger, to work harder, and to see your potential.”

When she was a teenager and nearing her high school graduation, Valdes felt rushed into choosing her career path. Upon graduating from SUNY Oswego with a bachelor's degree in Public Relations in 2015, she still wasn’t sure she had made the right career choice. 

As the years passed, “I had worked a couple of different jobs by that point and I kept going back to the idea of teaching,” she explained. “I knew the only way to become a teacher would be to go back to college to get my certification and, while that was a scary thought, I was excited knowing I had enough life experience behind me to feel comfortable making such a big commitment.”

Valdes said she wanted to go somewhere she knew she’d receive a quality education.

“The first time I visited the [Mount] campus in person, everyone was so nice, welcoming, and helpful,” she said. “I felt like the professors and advisors really had my best interest in mind and thoroughly explained the programs, the classes I would need to take, and took their time to answer all my questions honestly.”

As for returning to college as an adult learner, Valdes said it made her a more committed student.

“I wanted to truly earn my education and get the most out of my classes and learning experience,” she explained. “I showed up to every class prepared and ready to challenge myself. I knew that my future was about to change and I wanted to soak in the experience of being back in the classroom, so I could take what I learned into my next phase of life.”

Although working and going to school full-time required a lot of discipline and drive, Valdes noted, “It was more important to me as an adult learner to take my commitment seriously and that was reflected in my grades.”

After being accepted to multiple graduate programs, including Columbia University’s English Education program, Valdes is thriving in her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at SUNY New Paltz. Upon graduating with her MAT, Valdes hopes to work in the classroom right away.

“My dream is to be able to implement all the progressive, inspiring techniques I’ve been learning through this program into my own classroom and really make a difference in the lives of my students,” she said, adding, “I’m looking forward to all that’s to come and what I will accomplish.”


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