Note: This article is part of the StanGrad series highlighting Stanislaus State students who are part of the Class of 2020. Read more StanGrad profiles.
Her professors describe her as a “dream student and soon — a dream future teacher,” a “stunning writer” and a “standout student,” but when Mary Worthington transferred to Stan State from Modesto Junior College, she didn’t exactly see herself that way.
“I changed majors twice, took the wrong classes, swam through a sea of self-doubt and took six years to get all the way to this point,” she said. “There were so many times that I could not see the end of this academic quest clearly, but I kept walking toward where I thought it was anyway.”
The Delhi native said she was inspired by her daughter to keep going.
“The location of Stan State allowed me to keep the schedule for my child the same as I moved on to my next level of educational goals,” she explained. “I didn’t want to commute to a college that was farther away because I would barely see my daughter. I knew I couldn’t bear the stress of that on top of the workload. I could study, stay close and work toward what I wanted out of life from the comfort of what had become my hometown.”
Worthington’s perseverance paid off. Once she found her passion, she was unstoppable. And her drive and determination left her professors singing her praises.
“Mary has impressed me in every possible category of living and learning,” said English Professor Stephanie Paterson. “She's a stunning writer in every genre, a skilled tutor (empathetic to the extreme), a peer leader, a stand-out student and she has overcome incredible odds. She is a miracle in terms of what she has been able to accomplish. And she is such a pleasure to work with, because she is warm and alert and humorous and thoughtful and she doesn't miss a beat.”
While at Stan State, Worthington served as a tutor while earning a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
“From my time spent as a tutor, I realized that there were many adults whose first language is not English who often get discounted or run against barriers because of a simple language disconnect,” Worthington said. “We are surrounded by people that have so much to offer, but there are some who don't take the chance to share what they have, because they are embarrassed about the way they feel they communicate. I've also come to understand how long and difficult the journey of language acquisition is.”
Worthington plans to stay in the region to offer what she can to those who take on the task of learning a new language and carving out a new path for themselves and their families.
“My future career goals are to teach language learners at the college level,” she said. “I want to bring my style and creativity to the language classroom, so that I might help others accomplish the goals they set for themselves. Ideally, I would work at Stanislaus State or Modesto Junior College, but as long as I am teaching in some capacity, I will be doing what I want to do.”
Bachelor of Arts in English, TESOL concentration
What memories stand out most from your time at Stanislaus State?
“Collaborating with my fellow classmates and late nights and long weekends at the Library stand out the most from my time at Stanislaus State. Whether I had a rapport with my classmates from my previous institution or had just met them, we would walk to our next class together, head over to the Library, meet at the computer lab, find a spot in the Quad or catch a bite. All the while, we would be talking about the last class, how we were going to approach the next project, what areas we were struggling in or just the everyday stressors of college. In those moments I realized I was not alone in my feelings of inadequacy, confusion or sense of accomplishment. A lot of my memories are just of me grinding, trying to find the motivation to stay one more hour or until the project was a completed rough draft. My space at the computer would be lined with large containers of water, coffee, Red bull and protein and energy snacks to get me through to the next assignment, the next deadline.”
Which faculty or staff member had the greatest impact on you, and why?
“It is so hard to pick just one person, because there have been many members of the Stanislaus State team that have listened, advised and encouraged, and I am so grateful to each one of those people. If I had to choose one though, I would choose Dr. Stephanie Paterson. She taught me, maybe reminded me daily, that I had everything I needed inside of me to be the great professor I want to be. She layers her courses with material that prompted me to reflect on what it is that I want to bring to the table as a professor once I start setting the tone in my own classroom. She challenged me to see myself as a scholar, a writer and a person that has something to contribute to the conversation, not just in the realm of academia. Her energy and her passion for what she does inspires me to bring the parts of me that are creative to the classroom because everything we do in academia, no matter the field of study, becomes the art that we craft and create as we share our expertise with our eventual colleagues and future students.”
What advice would you give to current and future students?
“Talk to as many people as possible and seek answers from everybody. Those around you experience the campus in slightly different ways and will end up stumbling upon something that will make your time here easier. I found much of my information from people in the Writing Center. So, go to the Writing Center, find a club, go to meetings, talk with the Success Center. Just find people to start conversations with. These will be the people that you turn to in triumph and crisis.
Also, keep the accomplishment of being in college in perspective. College challenges you academically, emotionally, physically (the exhaustion is real) and personally. Those challenges can seem too big to handle in the moment, but those are the times you need to remember that you’ve already met a great challenge by getting into college. Write inspirational notes on Post-It notes and place them wherever you will see them every day. Do what it takes to remind yourself of the great things you have done so that you will remember you have what it takes to accomplish what you have set out to do. And for all the undeclared freshman, don't stress about not having a major. Take some required courses and let that passion find you. You, too, belong here.”