As they prepare for the next stages of their lives, members of the Brooklyn College Class of 2017 share some details of their journeys from students to graduates. Find more student commencement profiles and videos on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Use the #BCGrad2017 hashtag to join the conversation!

Merin Jacob

M.A. in earth and environmental sciences

As a teacher who taught in an environmental science school, I got really interested in the subject. However, since I had a master’s in special education from Lehman College, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue another degree. My husband was supportive, even though we were first-time parents, so I decided to find out about Brooklyn College. Professor Eleanor Miele was friendly and informative and helped me map my degree requirements and path to achievement. As I was taking a year off from work for childcare, I decided to go on this adventure.

In my 19 years of schooling, this has been one unique experience. I was juggling home, school, being a new parent—and it was much more than just multitasking. The earth science content was intense, but the collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, field trips across the city and state, and also samples of rocks and minerals in my lab, brought the subject to life. The more I understood the size and complexities of the universe, the more insignificant I felt. However, the more I learned about geology and catastrophic climate change, the more I understood the significance of human activity on the planet.

A proverb says, “As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another.” My fellow students and I helped each other learn. Having fewer courses each semester meant that we usually were in the same classes and that was a blessing in disguise. We met up during the weekends and collaborated on Google docs—editing, adding, commenting, and discussing. Preparing for evaluations and group projects helped us study the content and that’s when grades didn’t matter; learning did, collaboration did. We rooted for each other and that is not a common experience in other graduate schools.

I have learned effective time management. For a teacher, that is an important skill. I know that I am a last minute person when asked to write papers or plans, and I had many unsuccessful attempts trying to change that about myself. Instead of fighting it, I decided to embrace it. I did not schedule anything the night or weekend before a paper or exam was due. I asked my friends how they were doing as they paced their assignments and used peer pressure to feel the urgency of getting started. I tackled the fun part of assignments first and then got to the rest of it when I was in a good mood.

This year, I am in my 20th year of schooling. I realize that my perspective on college education and the motivation for learning has changed for the better. I hope this changes other students’ perspectives about multitasking to pursue higher education, too.