BGSU Firelands grad, new mom creates her own pathway to graduation

HURON, Ohio – A new Bowling Green State University Firelands grad has her sights set on a career as a teacher after creating her own pathway to earning an education.

During her college career, Viviana Robinson ’23 was forced with the difficult decision to temporarily put school on pause to focus on being a new mom.

As Robinson proved during her time at BGSU Firelands, being a good student and a present parent were not mutually exclusive – Robinson successfully juggled all of her responsibilities on her way to becoming a Firelands graduate.

With the help of family and the faculty at Firelands, the Willard, Ohio, native created a path that worked for her new life as a mother as she earned an associate degree in Inclusive Early Childhood Education.

“I always say being a parent is the hardest thing that I love to do,” she said. “I decided that I wanted to focus on my baby and navigating being a new parent for a semester. I really wanted to focus on being a good mom, but when I came back to school, I think you have that mom guilt where it’s like, ‘How am I going to leave my little baby?’”

After taking a semester off, Robinson was unsure of how she would return to school. 

Aided by her family and encouraged by her husband, Robinson returned to classes part-time the following fall, a pace that allowed her to continue pursuing her degree while still meeting the many demands of raising a small child.

Robinson said being a parent not only brought a new perspective to her coursework – which dealt which pedagogical theory and practice – but allowed her to appreciate the little steps that added up to a big accomplishment. 

“Having these big steps are awesome and monumental, but it takes the little steps to reach the big milestone you want in your life,” Robinson said. “Maybe you have to wake up super early or stay up late to get in an assignment, but you’re able to do it, and that really pushed me.

“I showed myself I was able to do it. I can look back and say that I did it, and nobody can take that away.”

After earning her associate degree, Robinson plans to continue at Firelands to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Inclusive Early Childhood Education to become an educator.

Dr. Trisha Prunty, an assistant professor and the co-coordinator of the Inclusive Early Childhood Program at BGSU, said Robinson’s determination is matched by a desire to learn.

“Being a lifelong learner is an essential part of being a good teacher,” Prunty said. “Viviana strives to learn and wants to learn about students, parents, curriculum and pedagogy, and she wants to better herself to be a better parent and better teacher. I am very impressed with her desire to learn and continue learning even beyond the classroom setting.”

Earning her first degree while being a new parent had its challenges, but it was an accomplishment worth celebrating. 

Robinson said the honor didn’t sink in until she was in possession of a degree cover, signifying a milestone in her academic journey. 

“I don’t think it even really dawned on me that I have a degree now,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t until I got the degree cover and said, ‘This really happened.’

“I know the end goal is to get my bachelor’s degree and my teacher’s license, but having an associate degree under my belt shows that I can do it and I know that I can do it.”

Updated: 06/05/2023 09:45AM