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Online M.Ed. Graduate Reignites Passion for Learning and Education

The copper wolves at Wolf Plaza. Photo by Marc Hall.
The copper wolves at Wolf Plaza. Photo by Marc Hall.

If it wasn’t for an advertisement on NPR, Andrea Hampton might never have pursued her master’s at NC State.

It’s what led her to attend the NC State College of Education Graduate Student Open House in spring 2019, where she was sold on the online Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Elementary Education, Mathematics program.

“I always knew that I would go back to school to get my master’s degree at some point in time, but I didn’t want to do it until I found the program that ignited my passion for education,” Hampton said. 

When she came to the elementary education math and science specialist table hosted by Professor Sarah Carrier, she knew she found the right program. Carrier told her about the amazing program with a focus on conceptual learning and research-based curriculum through an innovative hybrid model meant for working teachers.

Hampton, an intervention teacher at Apex High School in Apex, North Carolina, has already been able to connect her coursework to her career. Although she is a high school teacher pursuing a degree in elementary education, Hampton says the coursework is applicable.

“Understanding the importance of the fundamental skills and the need for a conceptual understanding of those skills in order to be able to move on to higher-level mathematics is vital. This program has also reignited my passion for learning and education in general,” she said. 

Hampton also praises the flexibility of the distance education experience at NC State. It allowed her to take one class per semester, which gave her the freedom to enjoy her education while maintaining her other responsibilities.

When she first began the program, Hampton was unsure if a hybrid distance education program would offer the same experience and social aspect as in-person learning. 

“What I thought would be a challenging platform for discussion, collaboration and learning quickly turned into a new way of growing,” she said. “I looked forward to my graduate classes and working with the math cohort that I began with became a safe place to learn and grow online.”

When everything went completely online in March 2020, including the program, her career and her children’s learning, Hampton had to adjust. 

“My children stepped up and became my guinea pigs for all student experiences, as well as making guest appearances in my classes,” she said. “They willingly rearranged their screen time to align with my classes and learned to work together to determine when they should eat their picnic dinners.” 

With the support of her children and her husband, Hampton was able to put graduate school first and succeed. 

She also attributes her success to the faculty at NC State, particularly Associate Professor  Temple Walkowiak and Teaching Professor Valerie Faulkner.

“Dr. Walkowiak served as my advisor throughout this process. I appreciated her patience and support as I continued my path towards my master’s degree, often changing my mind on exactly what certifications I wanted to pursue,” Hampton said. “She was kind and supportive and challenged me to make the most of the opportunities that were available.”

During her time at NC State, Hampton also had the pleasure of taking both a rational numbers and operations course and an algebraic reasoning course with Faulkner.

“My learning was invigorated by how passionate Dr. Faulkner was about all learning, but specifically math and racial equity,” she said. “Her classes were always well-planned with room to grow and wander as the experiences and learning of the class took it. I learned so much not just from her, but from the conversations that she was able to spark.”

Hampton recommends NC State’s online programs to anyone who is interested in furthering their education. 

“With the way that educational technology has improved throughout this pandemic, I believe a distance education program offers all of the benefits of a traditional master’s program,” she said. 

Hampton plans on attending the in-person College of Education graduation ceremony on May 6 at Reynolds Coliseum.

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