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Online Graduate Student Uses Her Degree to Guide Families and Build Connections

Jennifer, or Jenny, Vazquez reflects on her experience at NC State as she prepares to graduate with a Master of Youth, Family, and Community Sciences (YFCS). The knowledge and support Vazquez gained through her studies will help her continue to pursue her passion of helping children.

Coming from a long line of teachers, Vazquez has always known she wanted to work with children. Though she hoped to find jobs that allowed her to help children without teaching in the public school system, Vazquez took several positions in early childhood education. After having this experience, she found opportunities to work with children in a private setting as a nanny and home educator. Working in a private setting inspired Vazquez to help families in new ways.

“I was able to use my experience in early childhood education and behavioral development to help families live happier, smoother lives and develop one-on-one connections with children that last to this day.”

As her passion for her work grew, Vazquez was inspired to pursue higher education to help families in a private setting as best as possible.

“I stumbled upon the NC State YFCS program as I was looking into early childhood ed master’s programs. Right away I knew that this was the path for me,” Vazquez said. “It would allow me the opportunity to continue to work with families in the way I loved, but learn even more about how to help them and the community at large!”

Vazquez speaks highly of the YFCS program, especially regarding the support and knowledge she gained during her time in the program.

“I have been taken aback at every step by the amount of support and good-natured intentions I have encountered by everyone I have interacted with in this program,” she said. “It has opened my eyes to careers that I did not know existed, and has broadened my career horizons in ways I never expected and am very excited to explore!” 

The program has already opened new doors for Vazquez. She transferred from working as a private nanny to working as a role model coordinator with College Nannies + Sitters + Tutors developing programs to educate nannies and families. She continues to search for opportunities to grow within her career and extend her reach to families.

“The YFCS program provided me with new insights and perspectives, as well as work opportunities, and helped hone and validate the skills that I had been developing working with families in a professional capacity. I can now feel justified as an ‘expert’ and professional in my field, and that will open more doors for me as well.”

Vazquez also feels that the program was able to support her through the challenges of working during her studies and handling the stresses of an unusual year.

“This has not been a normal year for anyone, but with the support of the department, my personal support network and a lot of self-care (and breathing!), I was able to juggle the responsibilities in front of me and the emotional roller coaster that has been 2020.”

While working toward her degree, Vazquez coordinated the first YFCS Virtual Alumni and Networking Symposium as the social chair on the YFCS committee. She was inspired to create a connection between alumni and students within the program, especially during a time of social distancing. With the help of other students and faculty, including Deidra Craig, Kim Allen and Annie Hardison-Moody, the symposium was organized successfully.

“I love to be involved and give back to organizations I am a part of. The YFCS department is so open and friendly, it is hard not to want to get involved,” she said. “Thankfully with the support of Dr. Allen, and now director Dr. Hardison-Moody, we were able to make a version of this event a virtual reality which we hope meets the needs of our distance learning students and alumni. We are very excited to present what is the first and hopefully not the last YFCS Alumni Career and Networking Symposium!”

Vazquez looks forward to celebrating her graduation through a virtual ceremony put together by the department and relaxing with close family. As she nears graduation, she feels thankful for the support she received from the department and hopes to inspire others to pursue higher education.

“The graduate program was very welcoming of me as a professional and respectful of my other responsibilities and the experience I brought to the table. Being fully online meant that I was able to move as needed without disrupting my degree path at all,” she said.

“Honestly the YFCS family has been so supportive and I have worked personally with most all faculty members. I would like to thank all the professors I have had throughout my course, and especially Dr. Allen and Dr. Hardison-Moody for their continued support this semester!”

Congratulations to all of our NC State Online and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences graduates!

Are you interested in advancing your career with a Master of Youth, Family and Community Sciences from NC State Online? Visit the program page or for a full list of degree and certificate programs.

This post was originally published in DELTA News.