May 24, 2024

For Jordan Monk-Bettencourt, balancing a college education with being a mother was something she originally thought might not be possible. This month, she will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. 

Stan Grad Jordan Monk

Prior to enrolling at Stan State, Monk-Bettencourt took a significant hiatus after earning her associate degree to care for her daughters. Despite being nervous about returning to college, especially as a first-generation student, she said the advice and support from faculty and staff assuaged her concerns.  

“I had a deep fear that not finishing school on a traditional timeline would hold me back from achieving my goals, but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Monk-Bettencourt said. “The faculty and staff at Stan State care about encouraging students and guiding them during their time here. Returning to school as a mother was a scary decision to make, but we were welcomed with open arms.” 

She often brought her daughters with her to campus, either dropping them off at the Child Development Center or bringing them to class with permission from her professors. 

“Being a mom isn’t just tolerated in the Psychology Department, it’s celebrated,” she said. “I hope my girls carry these memories with them, and it reassures them that school isn’t as scary as it seems.”  

Her daughters aren’t the only ones benefiting from attending class. Monk-Bettencourt has learned to embrace vulnerability as a path to growth.  

“While sincerity is scary, it isn’t something to shy away from,” she said. “It feels vulnerable to pursue opportunities that might not work out or show people how deeply you want something, but that vulnerability is valuable.” 

Monk-Bettencourt aspires to become both a counselor and an educator. She was recently accepted into Stan State’s Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavior analysis and plans to use her education to help others enact positive change in their lives. 

  “I hope to eventually become a marriage and family therapist and teach behavior analysis and counseling classes here at Stan State,” Monk-Bettencourt said. “I plan to use my degree to help others feel empowered to change what they can within their environment in order to be the best, happiest versions of themselves.”  

#StanGrad File


Jordan Monk-Bettencourt


Turlock, CA


Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

What memories stand out most from your time at Stanislaus State?

“Some of my favorite memories from my time at Stan State are experiences I was allowed to share with my daughters. My oldest attends the Child Development center where I could go visit her between classes and admire the fact that she was on the same campus as I was, learning right alongside me. There were times when my childcare would fall through, and my professors wouldn't hesitate to allow my daughters into the classroom I hope my girls carry these memories with them and it reassures them that they can always pursue their education.” 

Which faculty or staff member had the greatest impact on you, and why?

“Shannon Bianchi, a faculty member in the Psychology Department, has taught me everything I know about behavior analysis and even more about what it means to be human. She believed in me before I believed in myself, and without her endless patience, encouragement and guidance I would surely be in a very different place than I am right now. 

“Dr. William Potter has provided me opportunities to pursue my research interests and has inspired and supported me in all my academic pursuits. 

“Dr. Gary Williams has taught me that my self-worth exists outside of my academic achievement and not to shy away from my eagerness to learn despite the fear of failing. 

“Dr. Keith Nainby has given me an example of what it looks like to move through the world with genuine kindness and authenticity, and he taught me the importance of providing a safe space for all students.” 

What advice would you give to current and future students?

“I would advise future students to be unafraid of trying. Fear of failure is normal but it’s a shame when it holds you back from opportunities that could bring you joy! This is something I’m still trying to embrace. I’d also remind students that faculty and staff are here to support them and not to be afraid to ask questions.” 

Note: This article is part of the StanGrad series highlighting Stanislaus State students who are part of the Class of 2024. Read more StanGrad profiles.