It’s Not About What It Is, It’s About What It Can Become

WGU Texas Graduate Rachael Black Inspires

Rachael Black What do Dr. Seuss and WGU Texas have in common? The children’s author and Texas’ online, non-profit university both inspire and motivate Rachael Black, a WGU Texas graduate, full-time teacher and mother of two.

Rachael, who is the oldest of six siblings, is the first in her family to graduate from college. She’s a self-proclaimed “science nerd,” who began her teaching career last fall after receiving her degree from WGU Texas.

But like many non-traditional students, her path to a degree wasn’t an easy one.

“I grew up impoverished, a prison inmate’s daughter, neglected and abused, hungry, uneducated and destined to be unsuccessful,” said Black.

Black’s father was in and out of prison, and she had a distant, strained relationship with her mother. Extreme poverty made a difficult situation worse.

On her long walk to school each day as a child, Black had time to reflect. “I grew up with very low self-esteem. But, I knew I was smart, so I focused on my schoolwork,” said Black. She credits her love of books along with the support of her teachers that allowed Black to graduate high school, something neither of her parents had accomplished.

Black earned college credit from dual-credit classes in high school, and she continued her studies at community college. But life, as it often does, got in the way. When Black’s first child was born, she found the combination of a full-time job, child care and school too much to manage.

From time to time, she continued to pursue higher education, but the challenge of balancing work and life responsibilities made those early efforts unworkable.

And, it was when Black stopped herself and thought, “There’s always going to be something in the way. I just had to commit to finding a solution so I could get my degree.”

That solution was WGU Texas, which offered Black the flexibility, support, resources, and academic rigor she needed to succeed. Her studies led her to a B.A. in Science Education and a spot as a featured commencement speaker at WGU Texas’ 2016 graduation ceremonies.

And, what about that Dr. Seuss connection?

Her 9th grade biology classroom in Aledo, just outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex showcases Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax in its décor.

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become,” says the Lorax. And, it’s a fitting mantra that sums up not only Black’s early life but what she hopes to instill in each of her students.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Black says. “I want to inspire students the way my teachers inspired me.”

And, today, as a 9th grade biology teacher, including a Pre-AP class, her future is even brighter.

“It is my belief that when students are actively engaged in learning, teachers are able to visibly see the reward of their efforts – students demonstrate genuine interest and ask questions that further learning. Recognizing this purpose continues to inspire me to find new ways of keeping students captivated and motivated in learning,” Black adds.

She’s living proof that “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

Watch Rachael Black’s 2016 Commencement speech and learn more about WGU Texas’ degrees in teaching at http://texas.wgu.edu/education/online_teaching_degree.

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