Education

Good advice about going back to school proves life-changing

Gary Brahm and Matt Rogers

Matt Rogers, shown with Chancellor Gary Brahm at the May 20 Southern Commencement, earned a Master of Arts in Teaching.

Graduating with your master’s degree and getting a job teaching fourth grade may not sound like a love story.  

It is.

Matt Rogers dropped out of high school and spent more time than he cares to remember waiting on tables in restaurants. And that’s where this love story begins.

At his last restaurant job, he met Katie, a Brandman alumna who earned her master’s in special education, and everything changed.

Wasted potential

When he was 14, Rogers' high school English teacher told him he would never amount to anything. “Even if true, it is a pretty cold thing to say. The thing was though, she was right. I was a cautionary tale – potential thrown away. For a good 18 years or so, that’s exactly what I stayed,” said Rogers.

That’s when the string of restaurant jobs began. Eventually, Rogers decided he could get his GED and even go to college. He earned an associate degree with the hopes of becoming a sports announcer but was back working at a restaurant and wondering how he could continue his education or if he even should.

Katie told him about Brandman. They also started dating. 

Bachelor’s degree first

The opportunity to go to school while still working seemed like a good solution to the dilemma many adults who didn’t head for college right after high school. How do you give up a job to go back to school? The flexibility of evening and online courses allowed Rogers to complete his bachelor’s in liberal studies in 2015. In the process, he acquired a new appreciation for learning and for teaching.

Matt Rogers
It's hard to resist a selfie when you have a new degree.

That led him toward a new career path – one he hopes will allow him to make up for the teacher who undermined his education back in high school. He earned his Multiple Subject Credential and then enrolled in the Master of Arts in Education Teaching and Learning program.

His timing was excellent. The need for teachers in California, particularly in the Inland Empire where he lives, is growing. While working toward his credential, he began working as a substitute teacher.  

He was about to start a stint as an unpaid student teacher when one of the principals at a school where he substituted offered him a paid teaching internship. It was teaching first grade, not one he was sure he wanted to teach. Thanks to the confidence and knowledge he gained at Brandman, he didn’t hesitate.

Then just a few days before classes were to start, the opportunity to teach fourth grade as intern became available, and he happily switched. 

A turned around life

The paid internship also made life easier. That girl who urged him to consider Brandman was now his wife, and they had a mortgage to pay.

He also learned the value of connections. When applying for a full-time position, he learned that one of his Brandman classmates was already working at the school where he had just interviewed. He landed that job and spent last year teaching fifth grade at George Brown Jr. Elementary in San Bernardino, California.

“Now I am doing something that I love and look forward to every single day. I get to work with some amazing kids and some great teachers,” said Rogers. 

And after a year teaching fifth grade, this fall he’ll return to the grade level he loves to teach – fourth grade.

“It’s the perfect age. They’re smart but snarky,” said Rogers. 

Brandman proud and thankful

Aria Bella
Aria Bella Rogers (above) was born June 22. 

 

Matt and Katie RogersFinishing his degrees at Brandman has made all the difference in his life. “I am incredibly thankful that Brandman was there and I have a chance to do something I love. It’s an amazing program. You can right your path,” said Rogers. “I have lifted myself up from nothing.”

Matt and Katie Rogers have even more to be thankful for. About a month after receiving his master's degree at the Southern Commencement in May, they welcomed their daughter Aria Bella into the world. Mom, dad and baby are all doing well.

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