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Meet the Grads - Sarah Dade

Meet the Grads:

Every student at NOVA brings a different story, and a different perspective on student success and achievement. Commencement brings to life their accomplishments.

For a student like, Sarah Dade who returned for a second degree at NOVA after completing her first here 11 years ago, she looks forward to becoming an amazing educator. She has accomplished so much and has overcome many challenges to ensure that she continues to be there for her family while following her dreams.

The college is so proud of these #NOVANighthawks who were a part of the 2021 Winter Commencement.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background: 

My name is Sarah Dade. I am a mom of a rambunctious and intelligent 2.5-year-old daughter, a fiancé to my amazing partner, and a small business owner of KNOT'S, a custom crochet, shirt and sticker business.

What brought you to NOVA?

I started my NOVA journey right after I graduated high school in 2007. While my friends were off to other Universities both in and out of state, I decided to stay local and attend classes at NOVA. I made this decision to save money and take advantage of the guaranteed acceptance that NOVA has with local universities. I was in no rush to jump headfirst into the ever-looming debt that comes with student loans. So, I knew I could attend my local community college, receive an on-par education provided by other universities, as well as save money.

Since middle school I was dead set on becoming the best veterinarian in the world, so I began taking the necessary undergrad science and math classes. While at NOVA I worked two jobs; I worked as a veterinary tech and a biological science aide in an isotope lab. It took me a while to get into the groove of working and going to school, but I finally graduated with my Associates of Science degree in science in 2010! Without any debt! I would go on to get accepted to Trinity Washington University in DC and graduate with my Bachelor's in Biology in 2014.

I had done it! I completed all the necessary undergrad work to embark on a journey into veterinarian school. However, life has a funny way of changing and the plans and goal I set in middle school of becoming the best veterinarian in the world had changed to the adult version of me wanting to go into teaching. I had laid all of this ground work to achieve a goal I set in middle school to throw a monkey wrench in my plan and decided I wanted to become a teacher.

2020 threw a monkey wrench in everyone's plans as we were faced with a global pandemic. I, like many others, lost my job. I was a lead teacher in a preschool at the time and my daughter was attending the preschool. Now, I no longer have child care.  On top of that my boyfriend had to have knee surgery as well as surgery to remove a large cancerous tumor. I was overwhelmed to say the least. 

Instead of becoming consumed by the overwhelming battles I was facing, I decided to go back to school and further my education in my new field as an educator. I decided to go back to the place where my higher education first took place; the place that gave me my first degree 11 years ago. I applied to NOVA and I began classes in Spring of 2021 right as my boyfriend was starting his radiation treatment for cancer. I made the dean's list that semester.  Now I am a part of the 2021 class graduating with my careers study certificate in early childhood development, and I have never been prouder of myself and what I've achieved. 

What are you studying or plan to study at NOVA?

I started off studying science at NOVA in 2007 and obtained my associates 2010. This time around I studied early childhood development and just received my CSC.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA; i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met 😊

This time around at NOVA it was a little hard to make friends because I was learning virtually over Zoom. However, I had some classmates that made learning virtually fun and entertaining. So, shout-out to my girls ,Audrey and Shannon from my CHD 165 class. I'm going to miss chatting with those ladies. I also made friends on graduation day with Fahima and Mabinty whom I had the pleasure of walking across stage with. We took selfies and made sure each other's makeup and hair were on point despite having half out faces covered by a mask. 

All of my professors here at NOVA were so knowledgeable and very understanding. Whenever my toddler would decide to join me in a lecture, my professors did not mind her joining in. I appreciate Professor Pamela Blankenship for her wealth of knowledge and resources. I want to thank Professor Spencer for her amazing spirit and creating a zoom class so interactive that it felt as though we were in person learning. I also want to thank Professor Holloway for all of her tips and insight on owning a home daycare business and what it entails as well as her patience and kindness in letting my two-year-old learn with us! I finally want to thank Dr. Schull for making my transition back to NOVA easy and stress free, as well as answering all of my questions and calming any of my doubts about returning back to school after such a long time away.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?

To the future NOVA attendees, know that NOVA is going to set you up on a path for success, even if that path changes.

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

Now that I have graduated again from NOVA, I am going to pursue opening my own daycare center and looking forward to teaching future generations.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.

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