Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Introducing the Featured Learner Series: Meet Teresa M. Wilson

Without a doubt, it is the people of Peirce College who make it such a great place to learn and work. For that reason, we feel it is important to recognize the unique individuals who contribute so much to our institution. Throughout the year, we use our Featured Learner series to highlight several special students, share their success and give the outside world some insight into what makes Peirce so great – the people, their stories, and their passion for learning and furthering their education.

On that note, let’s meet our current Featured Learner, Teresa M. Wilson.

Teresa Wilson first came into contact with Peirce through the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals, when she attended a symposium held on campus. In the days following that first introduction to a number of faculty members, she conducted some of her own research and it was only a week after the event that Teresa was enrolled in Peirce College. Today, she is working toward her bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies and plans to graduate in December 2010.

A self-proclaimed “football nut,” Teresa admits to living and dying by the Philadelphia Eagles. She also stays busy as the mother of two little girls who keep her on her toes.

“My 5-year-old just started Kindergarten this past year and she thinks it’s neat that Mommy has homework just like her,” explained Teresa. “She even reminds me to raise my hand so I don’t get yelled at.”

Teresa is a great example of a Peirce student. Her first foray into higher education was in 2000, when she was enrolled at the International College of Hospitality Management in Washington Depot, Conn. After taking a six-year hiatus, Teresa has never doubted her decision to come back, no matter how challenging it can be at times to balance school and motherhood. She says her main inspiration is her mom, who earned her master’s in Education while working full time for the School District of Philadelphia and also raising Teresa and her brother.

This is why the relationships and support systems she’s found at Peirce are so important. She, like many adult students, has plenty of real-world obstacles to contend with, and the bonds that are built at Peirce make all the difference. The strong support system that exists among faculty, fellow classmates, and every other member of the Peirce community creates a unique environment that you can’t find just anywhere.

“The relationships that the professors form with their students are amazing,” Teresa said. “You’re not just a number to the faculty at Peirce. Every name has a face and every face has a personality. And the bonds that are built with your classmates create a dynamic that you can’t find many places.”

With that strong support system at her disposal, Teresa is always ready to face the challenges of an academic environment that she describes as rigorous and intellectually stimulating.

“The intense coursework causes you to analyze information and support one side or the other,” she says. “The debates in class are always informative -- they keep your mind working. This program is not easy in any way, but it is the challenge that ignites the drive and passion.”

Teresa’s coursework has included a combination of both on-campus and online classes, in which she maintains a 3.8 GPA and has been named to both the Dean’s List and President’s List. She serves as co-president of the Peirce College Paralegal Student Association, where she, along with the current leadership group, has begun the process to establish a Peirce College chapter of Lambda Epsilon Chi, the national paralegal honor society. Teresa is also a member of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals where she works on the newsletter, professional development, and education committees. At the association’s March luncheon, Teresa received a Special Recognition award, which is the second highest award issued by the association yearly.

In addition, Teresa was the recipient of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals’ 2009 Joan Weldon Scholarship. This recognition is a tribute to Teresa’s enthusiasm and passion for her profession, her academic excellence and exceptional community service.

Comprehensive academics and an emphasis on professional development prepared Teresa well for her current job at a litigation support company in Center City. As she looks ahead to the future of her career, Teresa’s ultimate goal is to work for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. She feels well prepared thanks to the Career Development Services (CDS) department which is available to students and alumni at Peirce.

Workshops and networking events through CDS have been particularly helpful. According to Teresa, “The workshops give you an inside track on preparing for interviews and how to make your resume effective. The networking events expose you to professionals from all over the city and tri-state area. Those professionals take time out specifically to talk to Peirce students, whether it be about what new technology a paralegal should be familiar with or how truly important the role of the paralegal has become.”

If Teresa could give one piece of advice to other Peirce students, it would be this: “Never give up! You have made one of the most important decisions in your life and no matter what, this journey will be worth it! There is an ocean of help and encouragement at your disposal, all you have to do is ask. There is a great saying that I see from time to time: ‘You should always shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you will still land among the stars.’”

What keeps her going? The words her mother spoke to her as a child. “She said to me on the day of her graduation something that I’ll never forget: ‘I will never ask anything of you that I haven’t already proven can be done,’ meaning she did it, so I can too.”