BU News

Special education chose her: How Brandman helped a hometown educator find hometown success

December 06, 2018 by Victoria Lim
Dominique Hansbur
Dominique Handsbur                    

Dominique Handsbur began working in special education for the Tulare City School District six years ago. She insists she didn’t choose this career.

“Special education chose me,” Handsbur says.

While attending junior college, she started out as an aide. Her role was to assist an autistic student and advocate 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.”

That 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, and 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.”

Handsbur graduated from Brandman with her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2017 and has returned to earn her mild-moderate special education credential. 

“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.”

She currently works as a resource support provider, and her goal is to become a special education teacher. She anticipates achieving her credential in 2020. 

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