Special Education program graduate at Marymount overcomes challenges to reach finish line

Faith Allen at Marymount University's 2021 Commencement Ceremonies

 

Faith Allen didn’t know much about Marymount University when she arrived on campus for the first time during a tour nearly four years ago. But what the Special Education major did know was the unmistakable sense of belonging she felt on that visit.

“I fell in love!” Allen recalls. “It felt like a community here. I loved how the faculty and students greeted me.”

That tour cemented her decision to enroll at Marymount University. Now, Allen is among the Class of 2021 and received her bachelor’s degree in Special Education during the College of Health and Education commencement ceremony on Friday, May 14.

Faith Allen receives her Special Education degree during the 2021 Commencement Ceremony.
Faith Allen receives her Special Education degree during the 2021 Commencement Ceremony.

 

Allen discovered her passion for education during her sophomore year. Staff members with The Arc, a nonprofit organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, visited Marymount alongside middle and high school students with disabilities. 

“We had the opportunity to speak with the students. The types of questions Arc staff members asked the students may have made people think that they couldn’t answer them, but they responded very well and it touched my heart,” Allen said. “I remember trying to hold my tears back while the students were speaking.”

From then on, Allen has become dedicated to her Special Education coursework, in addition to being a member of the Marymount Women’s Track and Field team and event coordinator for the African Caribbean Student Association.

Her ability to overcome and persevere through obstacles caught the attention of Allen’s professors in the School of Education

“In Spring 2019, I met Faith in a difficult class about teaching reading,” said Dr. Ana Lado, Professor of Education. “She impressed me not because she found the material easy. It wasn’t an easy class. She impressed because of her consistent effort. She was a student who reflected on her experiences and struggles.”

Allen, third from left, alongside fellow Special Education students. As part of the Global Education Series, students and professors planned a trip to Panama, but it was canceled due to the pandemic.
Allen, third from left, alongside fellow Special Education students. As part of the Global Education Series, students and professors planned a trip to Panama, but it was canceled due to the pandemic.

 

Allen admits the transition from high school to college was difficult for her. She faced thoughts of self-doubt, suffered from test-taking anxiety and often spent late nights completing assignments. 

“There were times that I felt as though I wasn’t good enough and my professors would show me otherwise,” Allen said. “They really pushed me to be a better learner, listener, collaborator, communicator and many more. I remember the times when I would get feedback on my assignments and they all would remind me that I am forming into a great teacher.” 

During her senior year, Allen pushed herself to complete two graduate-level courses in Education, putting her on track to earn a teaching license upon graduation.

“Faith always reaches out to serve others. Her passion and compassion for teaching all learners has been evident in all that she did in her coursework and fieldwork,” said Associate Professor of Education, Dr. Clara Hauth. “Faith will be an incredible teacher who will make a difference in her teaching career.”

But even as Allen has crossed the “finish line” and received her bachelor’s degree, she’ll continue her academic journey as a Saint as she attends graduate school at Marymount in pursuit of a degree in Information Technology. It’s a field she’s always been interested in, and while she had thought about returning to further her focus on Special Education, Allen strives to have two different degrees under her belt. 

“I would love to combine my bachelor’s degree and soon-to-be master’s degree and still be able to work with children,” Allen said. “Marymount is a great school that will do any and everything to help you succeed.”