Brandman helps hometown educator find hometown success
Dominique Handsbur (B.A. PSY, 17) has been working in special education for the Tulare City School District for six years. But she insists she didn’t choose this career.
“Special education chose me,” Handsbur says.
While attending junior college, she started out as an aide; she assisted an autistic student, advocating for him within the general education system.
“He was so smart and so bright — just the way his brain worked was so interesting,” she recalls. “You would never believe how groundbreaking it could be for students within special education to hear ‘You got this!’ and ‘I am here to help you be your best.’ Those affirmations and actions as a special education educator can transform them as not only students but as individuals who contribute to society.”
The experience inspired her to pursue her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She wanted to continue working full time; she had a family to care for, including a young son, and she was pregnant. Her friend recommended Brandman University, where 82 percent of returning adult students achieve their degree. In fact, a teacher she worked for had earned her master’s degree from Brandman.
“I was able to get started on my career and get my networking up and get my resume much beefier compared to going to a traditional four-year school [with no time] to work or build relationships with others who work within the same field.” Handsbur says. “[Brandman] is a pretty common school for teachers to go to around here.”
Brandman University has a record number of interns and student teachers this year with 58 interns and four student teachers. While Brandman students primarily serve Tulare and Kings counties, this year they also work in Kern and Fresno counties. Brandman offers 28 academic programs plus five added authorizations through its hybrid modality — a combination of on-ground and online classes — at the Hanford, Visalia and Lemoore campuses. Online programs and degrees are also available.
Handsbur enrolled in the online program for her psychology degree and has returned to Brandman to earn her mild-moderate special education credential. Brandman’s credential programs are accredited by CTC and NCATE.
“It was convenient compared to traveling an hour to sit in a class and traveling an hour back to my kids, where I have to go home, make dinner and worry about things at home,” she says. “The professors realize I have a life and wanted to pursue my dreams. They didn’t make me feel like I had to choose between family and school. They made me feel like I could be successful in both. I really appreciate that.”
Handsbur’s goal is to become a special education teacher. She anticipates finishing her credential at the new campus currently under construction in Visalia. The Hanford and Visalia campuses will merge and move into the new building at 198 and Plaza Drive in February 2019.
“The quality of education here deserves something fancy,” she says. “It’s all going to be grandiose. I’m so excited, and I’ll get to be there.”
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