One in 33,000: Graduating to a new career path

Alexandra Brell

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Elizabeth Jurgensen, first-year grad student, put her career in finance and business on hold to persue her master's degree in English. She hopes to eventually teach language arts at both the college and high school levels. Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Jurgensen

Upon first meeting Elizabeth Jurgensen, a first-year grad student, most noticeable is the way she speaks with purpose and determination.  It is these specific characteristics that keep her on the path to a graduate degree and a new chapter of her life.

Jurgensen was putting her business and finance undergraduate degree to good use, but the grind of her career was a strong motivator to go back to school.

“I did not want to go back in to the business world,” Jurgensen said. “Who’s hiring bankers these days?”  The 60-hour workweek and bringing a briefcase “full of work” home no longer held any appeal.

After taking a break from the working world for family and a new husband, she decided it was time to get back into school in 2008 to pursue teaching.
While working for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a substitute teacher,  she began researching what it would take to become fully certified.

“CSUN had a (teaching) credential prep program that I enrolled in,” Jurgensen said.  “I was under the gun to complete it.  I had to go full time to get it done.”
It was within this program that she received motivation and encouragement from her professors to pursue a graduate degree; they told her she would excel in teaching at the collegiate level.

She took their words to heart and applied.
Jurgensen is working toward her master’s in English so she can teach college-level composition, writing and literature.  She is also enrolled in the credential program in secondary education that will allow her to teach language arts at the high school level.

There were some hurdles in returning to student life,  Jurgensen said.

“The biggest challenge was getting back in the groove of academic writing and reading,” she said.  “When you’ve been away from it for a while, you lose your skill.”

“Oh, god, I don’t have any balance right now,” Jurgensen said when asked if she ever found balance and relaxation within her busy schedule.  “It has been all about school.  Grad level classes are really hard,”  she laughed.  “I thought, ‘Oh, it will be a little harder than a 400-level class.’  No, they’re twice as hard!”

Even with her difficult class load, she says she is happy with her choice to be back in school and has advice for anyone considering graduate school.

“Do some really honest self-assessment about how willing you are to devote yourself to school.  Realize you are going to give up a lot of time with family and friends and be exhausted for a few years,” she said.

Elizabeth is sure it will be worth it.