Travel lover earns her master’s degree on the road
Christina Tkacs took a five-month motorcycle trip through Central and South America with her husband, and not only did she take in fresh sights, meet new people and explore different cultures, she discovered her next career path, too.
“I spent five months in places where I didn’t really know the language and culture, and it was difficult at times,” Christina said. “It occurred to me that some people in the U.S. might feel the exact same way. So I decided to get a certificate in TESOL with the Master of Education in Adult Education.”
Her shift to TESOL and adult education is a sharp turn from her current career during which she spent 12 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and is now writing environmental procedures for NOAA.
“Before I started at CityU, I tutored in English to see if it was something I’d enjoy,” Christina said. “A lady I tutored told me that she went to the grocery store to ask for something, and she was so excited and proud that she could do that. That’s how I knew it was the right fit.”
Watching her students’ reactions when they connect the dots and learn is something that she still enjoys.
“I love the look of understanding when people find a relationship between their primary language and English,” Christina said. “They get a look of pure joy. I just love it.”
Opting for online education
With her love of travel and exploring new places, Christina didn’t want to be tied to a brick-and-mortar school, or a fixed class schedule.
“It’s great because CityU follows me wherever I go,” Christina said. “I can still travel. Last winter I spent two months in Spain, and I was able to continue my degree. I spend a lot of time traveling by motorcycle with my husband, and doing coursework in random hotels. I finished up one paper at a Denny’s.”
Since she takes online courses and is regularly on the move, the connections that she’s been able to develop with faculty members really stand out to her.
“What makes CityU better than other schools is their online engagement,” Christina said. “I like that the professors are engaged with the students online. The teachers do care and ask you questions and want to get to know you. They respond to your posts and questions. I haven’t met most of the instructors, but I feel like I know them.”
And she does.
“I decided to visit the campus in Seattle,” Christina said. “I went to visit Dr. Pressley Rankin and he said, ‘Oh, you’re the one that took the motorcycle trip!’ and I was so surprised that he knew me!”
Mapping out the future
Christina is nearing graduation and looking forward to revving up her new career.
“I’m going to continue volunteering with the Tacoma Area Literacy Council, and will try to teach as many classes as I can to gain experience,” Christina said. “I return home [to Tacoma] in two weeks and will start helping with advanced beginners and possibly intermediate students.”
She also looks forward to taking her skills on the road.
“I would like to teach abroad, six months to a one-year position every couple of years,” Christina said. “I love Spanish and I love being around those cultures, especially South American cultures.”
Whether in the U.S. or abroad, we’re certain that Christina will be able to help her students chart courses to brighter futures.
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