Commencement Spotlight: Danielle Laird
May 1, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd
Each semester, the Commencement Spotlight series highlights graduating Bearkats with a “can-do” spirit through challenge and service.
Bachelor of Education
Danielle Laird was born in Scarborough, a suburban district located in the eastern part of Toronto, Canada.
She then moved to Houston when she was in eighth grade, where she later attended Lone Star College and received an associate's degree before diving into her studies at a four-year institution.
“I went to the University of Houston for a little bit when I was younger,” Laird said. “My birthday is tomorrow and I'm going to be 36, so I'm kind of an older student.”
Being a wife and mother made Laird doubt her ability to finish her degree, but this month she will graduate with a Bachelor of Education and a minor in special education.
“I never thought I would be able to graduate. I didn't know how I was going to juggle everything at all. I just thought at some point it was all going to fall apart, so I am so thrilled to be graduating in May,” Laird said.
Her journey to becoming a teacher was challenging.
“I didn't have very many resources when I was younger, so I just started working,” Laird said. “I have always wanted to teach, so I taught preschool at churches and four-year-olds for three years, then I applied to Cy-Fair ISD as a paraprofessional.”
Laird did not believe she could manage her schedule being the mother of three young children while returning to school. She has always known, nevertheless, that teaching is her calling. Due to Laird's participation in the Ed-Aid program, her schedule is incredibly tight. She spends her weekdays working until 4 p.m. and drives an hour to take her classes at the Woodlands campus three days out of the week.
Despite the challenges of balancing work, family and personal commitments, Laird made the courageous decision to return to school and pursue her dreams. She wants everyone to know that even if they believe they cannot juggle other elements of their lives, it is possible for nontraditional students to return to school. Through her determination and perseverance, she proved to herself and those around her that age is just a number, and it is never too late to pursue one's passions.
“It's not easy by any means, but the outcome is worth it,” Laird said.
Although it is difficult for Laird to balance school, work and her personal life, she will miss Sam Houston for the Ed-Aid program where she has formed connections with her classmates and professors, as well as seeing everyone there and being able to learn from them.
Laird is looking forward to her enrollment in graduate school at SHSU, having recently received acceptance to pursue a program in curriculum and instruction upon graduation. Her ultimate goal is to become an instructional specialist and attain a master's degree.
Laird is a true inspiration to anyone who has ever doubted their ability to achieve their goals. Her message is clear: education is not limited to a certain age group or stage in life. It is never too late to learn and grow, and anyone can overcome the obstacles in their path to success.
By Nhi Nguyen
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