By: Alexandra Lazaridis

Did you take a break between college and TC? Although it may feel we are a minority, I’m here to gently remind you that we are not!

In May 2013, I was interested in graduate school but still a lost and confused 22-year-old with a broad idea of what she wanted to pursue. With a background in Political Science and Global Studies, I had been researching a master’s in International Affairs, truly believing that I would work for the United Nations at some point.

Convinced of my “five year plan,” I was awarded a grant to conduct research in the state of Himachal-Pradesh, India a few weeks after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While in the small village of Palampur, I was responsible for conducting research on government-run schools and if those schools were on track to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals.

With a free afternoon and an opportunity to volunteer, I told a non-profit that I was working with that I would love to visit and teach a local English class.

Alexii teaching

Little did I know, my break between college and graduate school was a life saver because I pretty much changed careers. I came home from this trip only speaking about my students and how much I loved teaching each day. I began to research graduate programs in TESOL/Applied Linguistics because I knew that I wanted this career with multiple opportunities — a chance to establish myself in New York while still working with immigrant populations, and also a chance to work abroad once more.

On my first day at TC, I’ll never forget how timid I felt — afraid that I had been “out of school” for too long, afraid that I had forgotten how to study and how to write papers after sitting at a desk job from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

If you’re feeling the same way, all I can say is this: You are not alone!

AND you don’t have to be timid! Being an admitted student here means that the faculty knows you can not only handle your curriculum, but truly thrive. Yes, those feelings I had were small challenges, and I had to attend a few APA workshops through the Graduate Writing Center. But I can safely say now that the time I took in between undergraduate and graduate school only further prepared me for the enrichment that was awaiting. Perhaps I read fewer books during my time between schools, but my experiences and growth made me ready for what was next — and I’m still so grateful that was Teachers College.

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