Tiffany’s Story

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Tiffany Finkle

Former Non-matriculated Student
Class of 2018  – Masters in
Special Education and Literacy
Advocate for Non-Traditional Students

Where I live currently in Columbia County, New York, the jobs are few and far between. I was so sick and tired of having a dead end job, where it was impossible to move up in the company that I was working for, or I wasn’t happy going to everyday. I wanted something more of myself, that I was proud of, and I wanted my three kids to be proud of me as well. I wanted to push myself outside of the box and not become a statistic.

You see, I was a young mother at the age of 20 (just shy of 21 when my oldest son was born) I had all these odds against me, since I was young, single and not a college graduate. I have always wanted to do so much more, because people were telling me all my life that I couldn’t. I wanted to prove the naysayers wrong. Dead wrong.

possible-953169_960_720I found myself at the University at Albany in the fall of 2013. I was doing an internship at ATV (University at Albany’s Student Run Television Station). With the help of counselors, advisors, and many other people that helped me find my way, the University at Albany just seemed to fit. Many of the advisors I had met with kept telling me how impressed they were with me finishing my degree and how determined I was, even with working full time, having three kids and a husband. It was so nice to be accepted for who I was and what I wanted to get out of my final semesters of my undergraduate college education. Every person that I had met at the University at Albany was more then willing to help me complete my journey. I was beyond excited to finish what I had started so many years ago.

So, I finished that fall semester and had to take some time off to figure out the best time to go back and finish my undergraduate degree. Then the timing happened, and I had gone back in the fall of 2015 and finished my degree in Journalism.

When I had finished and the classes that I had taken that semester and the professors I had met, made me fall in love with my degree all over again, and I found myself wanting more. To be passionate about something and make a difference in someone lives the way that those professors fall semester touched mine. I thought that I was set. I had it all figured out until I found another calling, still at the University at Albany. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. I wouldn’t want to.

I have just applied to graduate school at University at Albany, and I am now perusing a master’s degree in Special Education with Literacy. I am still in love with Journalism, however, I feel this degree will let me help kids in ways that I can’t put into words.

b70cfb62cf87d1e02b3aa89ae4fc7a62My advice to new students: Always ask questions. Never settle with an answer you aren’t happy with. Keep pushing and there will be someone here at the University that will listen and stand up for you and what you want. Believe me, I have been there.

I just so happened to meet one my dearest friends to me to this day at a night class at University at Albany, and for that, I will always be grateful. If you are struggling, please reach out to anyone that will listen. I felt so out of place being a 40+-year-old student in a classroom of twenty something’s (that are as old as my oldest child now). Network, make friends with your advisors, they are the greatest asset of this school; they have connections in ways that you don’t even know about. Hang in there, remember, the best is yet to come.

Remember, as the new and incoming Freshman and transfer students come to our campus, and be on the lookout for someone who looks lost and out of place, and reflect back and think about what you needed at just the right time and place and who was there to help you in your time of need. Because someday the shoe will be on the other, foot and it will be your turn to reach out and help. Be that helping hand to extend that same assistance that someone once offered you.


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