After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in December 2019, Sarah Marmash had no intention of returning to college. Ever.
“I got my undergrad and started working in school districts,” she said. “Then, COVID-19 hit and I got so bored. I was sitting at home and said, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ I decided to go back to school.”
Marmash enrolled in the online Master of Science in Education in Special Education – Intervention Specialist Mild-Moderate Disabilities program at Youngstown State University. She is on track to celebrate the second anniversary of her first degree by graduating with another one.
“I feel like the master’s degree will open up some career opportunities for me,” she said. “I swore I would never go back to school once I got my bachelor’s degree, so I chose Youngstown because it was all online.”
In doing so, Marmash is maintaining her full-time job as a paraprofessional at Bedford City Schools in Bedford, Ohio, without missing a beat as the country begins to return to normal.
“I love the fact that it was all online, and I could still work,” she said. “I didn’t have to plan around a work schedule, so I could gain experience while learning. It made the master’s degree program seem like it would fit my life perfectly — and it has.
“I did a couple of online courses before I enrolled at Youngstown State. I enjoy learning online because I have so much more flexibility.”
No Time Like the Present
Marmash grew up in Stow, Ohio, and knew from an early age which career path she would take after completing high school.
“I had always wanted to do education,” she said. “I also have teachers in the family. I used to work with elderly people in a nursing home, so I thought that I would try the opposite and work with kids. Plus, I get my summers off.”
In 2019, Marmash landed her current role as she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in educational studies with a minor in public health from Kent State University. She enrolled at Youngstown State in August 2020.
“I have been able to correlate a lot of what I have learned in the program to my job,” she said. “The other teachers whom I work with in the district have been a huge help. I can ask them a ton of questions. I feel like working in the field while getting your master’s degree is the best way to do it.”
With just a few months remaining in the online M.S.Ed. program, Marmash is eager to take the field-based practicum courses.
“I am ready for the hands-on portion, which I am doing in the fall,” she said. “I am looking forward to working with students. I enjoy doing that every day.
“The practicum is going to be one of my favorite courses in the program, but I have enjoyed all of the courses I have taken so far. They have been interesting.”
Down the Stretch
Marmash will be the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s. She believes the M.S.Ed. will help her achieve her career goals.
“So far, I have received solid value out of the master’s degree program,” she said. “I would like to eventually have my own classroom. My family and friends are excited for me to return to school.”
Earning a master’s degree online has worked out well for Marmash, who enjoys camping with friends in her free time.
“You have to be able to manage your time well in the online program,” she said. “You write papers and do discussion posts.”
Although Marmash was initially tentative about pursuing a graduate degree, it wasn’t long before her experience in the online program at Youngstown State helped change her mind.
“I ended up having really great professors in my courses,” she said. “The advisers have been very helpful and answered all of the questions I have had. It’s been a great experience for me.”