Military Veteran Discovers Passion for Education at UCSC Extension


- Josie Petkovski

Term : August, 2014
Department : Education
Program : TESOL

Josie Petkovski is pursuing a second career teaching ESL and is the mother of a three-year-old. She’s also a veteran living with PTSD. By the time she found UCSC Extension in January 2014, she’d already had a military career and been deployed abroad, started a family, and gotten accepted to a master’s program at a prestigious university. When she enrolled in her graduate program, however, the full weight of her commitment, when paired with her family responsibilities and adjustment to a civilian life, made her rethink her options. At times, her life circumstances made the goal of starting a new career feel out of reach. She discovered a new sense of confidence when she enrolled in Extension’s TESOL certificate program. Months later, Petkovski has earned straight As and is on track to complete her certificate by the end of the year.

“What was so amazing about my experience at UCSC Extension was that the classes were not all about academic achievement,” Petkovski says. “I had the opportunity to learn more about myself, and most of all I discovered the self-confidence I lacked for a long time. I realized that in life there are more opportunities, possibilities and choices than what I had been exposed to in my short-lived military career.” 

Petkovski gives the full credit for her positive experience at UCSC Extension to the instructors and administrative staff for their moral support and help. In particular, her first instructor helped her stay motivated to complete the certificate. Her instructors’ support, both in the classroom and online, helped her learn more and kept her from giving up. Their prompt responses via email and their answers to her questions about posting and commenting on the forum enabled her to excel in each class.  

“Overall, online learning was an eye-opening and very genuine experience,” she says. “Also, meeting new people from all walks of life and nationalities was a positive experience.” 

Petkovski doesn’t know exactly what lies ahead after completing the TESOL certificate.

“I’m grateful to the VA for helping me move toward my second career, against all odds,” she says. “I know that the knowledge I learned will eventually benefit others.”

Josie Petkovski plans to complete the TESOL certificate in Fall 2014 and pursue a graduate degree to teach ESL.

Visit our TESOL program page to learn more about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings. Browse upcoming TESOL courses.

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