Nighthawk Dreams of Returning to NOVA as a History Professor!

July 20, 2023

Elisabeth Bodin is on track to graduate with an associate degree in teacher education this fall. She has a love of history and an insatiable desire to continuously learn about the past. She fell in love with the subject while being homeschooled.  

Elisabeth Bodin

Born in the United States, Elisabeth lived briefly in England and has a bit of an Austrian accent, due to her mother’s nationality and fluency in the Austrian German dialect.  

After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Elisabeth’s dream is to become a history professor at NOVA. NOVA holds a very special place in Elisabeth’s heart. Having been homeschooled throughout her primary and secondary education, NOVA is where she first experienced a "classroom setting," and she has loved NOVA ever since. Although Elisabeth is in the Mason ADVANCE program, she is also applying to some other four-year schools.   

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background: 

Currently, I livein Purcellville, Va. We’ve lived here for about a decade. But as a child, we moved around a lot. I’ve lived in Maryland; Ashburn, Va. and England. My mother is Austrian, and my dad is from Louisiana. I have dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Austria. Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of Austrian media, such as movies and music. While living in England, we spent much of our time with our Austrian family and friends.  

During my high school years, I developed an autoimmune disease and was worried it would affect my academics. But even at my sickest, I continued to work hard on my studies. In the spring of 2020, I completed my high school work, completing my A levels in English literature, English language, history and mathematics. I used the British education system for my homeschool curriculum and the “A levels” are a British equivalent to AP classes.  

One of the benefits of being homeschooled is that you really get to focus on and develop your strengths. That’s how I became a massive history nerd! While being homeschooled, I could spend all my time reading once I finished my schoolwork. I could just read about history and other things as much as I liked. I’ve always been an avid learner, even outside of school. I will take every chance to read and gain more knowledge, especially on subjects related in any way to history. Also, I love sewing and hope to run a small business in that craft one day. 

What brought you to NOVA?

Besides the practical campus locations, I came to NOVA because of the ADVANCE program. While I had plans to go to George Mason following high school, I didn't know what to expect, since I had never been in a "traditional" school setting. I also worried about how my autoimmune disease would impact my studies. Later that year (2020), COVID-19 broke out, greatly impacting my post-secondary education plans. Academic testing centers shut down, and university classes and activities moved online. 

It was during that summer that I began to research community colleges. Northern Virginia Community College stood out with its diverse student body, various programs of study and affordability. Then I discovered the ADVANCE program, where I could easily transfer to George Mason University upon completing my associate degree at NOVA. 

What are you studying at NOVA? 

I am currently pursuing an associate in teacher education, specializing in elementary education. Also, I have studied Mandarin, which was outside my degree path. I became interested in the language while reading classic novels and dramas from China.   

Tell us about your experience at NOVA (i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met)  

My experience here at NOVA has been overwhelmingly positive. I have had many excellent professors, though some have stood out more than others. I have taken four semesters of Mandarin Chinese with Dr. Dali Tan, the most amazing and supportive professor a student can ask for. After completing all of NOVA's Mandarin Chinese courses, with Professor Tan's instruction, I not only learned a new language, but gained a further understanding of China’s history and culture.  

Dr. Marc Dluger, who teaches U.S. History at the Loudoun Campus, was another amazing professor here at NOVA. The discussions and assignments offered in his classroom greatly improved my critical thinking skills. Both professors have been amazingly supportive and understanding as I navigated NOVA with medical and other concerns.  

I have also made so many friends at NOVA and am forever grateful for each of them. I have never found a more welcoming group of friends. Also, I work with College Steps, a program to assist students with learning disabilities at NOVA. Working with College Steps will always be some of my fondest memories. 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?

Finding your place here at NOVA is easier than you think. NOVA's student body is truly diverse, with each student bringing in their own experiences. Also, the professors are knowledgeable and understanding.  

A lot of students think that it's hard to build a community or build friendships when you are only going to be here for two years. But the thing is that you'll transfer to the same universities as most of your friends, or you will still be in the area. My advice is not to be afraid to reach out and talk with people. You will build friendships in the strangest ways and strangest places. It's not as scary or difficult as it may seem.  

You can build a lifelong friendship simply because you share the same classroom. You can even build a lifelong friendship over Zoom. For example, all my Chinese classes were virtual, but the friendships I developed have continued way beyond the classroom setting.  

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring? 

I have plans to begin my bachelor's in elementary education at George Mason in the spring of 2024. Also, I plan to complete a minor along with my degree. Mason's minor in Chinese History and Culture has caught my eye. Then I'll move on to pursue a master's and doctorate in history. I want to work in education as an elementary school teacher and a history professor. I may even return to NOVA as a Professor of History someday! 

I am considering applying to Yale and Columbia after getting an offer from the Transfer Scholars Network. I have personally received mail from Columbia University. However, we all know they have a 4-5% acceptance rate. So, George Mason's still my safety plan if these universities don't work out.  

If I do get into Yale, I will probably change my major to history and see if I could get a double major in East Asian languages and literature. If not, I'm happy with Mason. I have friends at Mason, so if I don't get in, I'll be going to the same university as my friends. 

For my master's, I am interested in Columbia or University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. My master's would focus on global history. If I were to specialize, it would be in Middle Eastern, East Asian or European history because that's what I know best. I also want to learn more about Latin American and African history because I don't know as much about either.  

Suppose I do return to NOVA as a professor; that would be truly amazing! Some of my favorite memories happened at NOVA, and to return as a history professor would be pure joy! 

Topics: featured article, student success