Student Heads Back to School for a Future in Education


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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Meet Scholarship Recipient Christine Joyner

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

In 2019, Christina Joyner decided it was time to go back to school and pursue a degree in early childhood education. The single mother of two children, one of whom is autistic, chose an online program at Phoenix College (PC), because it allowed more flexibility for her personal life.

“At the time, my son was in the NICU as he was born a little early,” Joyner said. “I enrolled in online classes so that I could have the flexibility, because I also help take care of my elderly parents.”

Joyner, who is a native of College Park, Georgia, completed her associate degree in early childhood education in 2021 and is currently taking online classes at PC for an associate degree in elementary education.

She plans on transferring those credits toward Rio Salado’s new bachelor’s degree program in elementary and special education.

“I have always had a love for children,” Joyner said. “I have over 20 years of experience in the early childhood education field. The birth of my son helped me to realize that I wanted to further my career in a different outlet.”

To help offset the costs of her education, Joyner applied for a scholarship through the Maricopa Community Colleges. She received the Winston and Dr. Jean Tease Social Justice Scholarship for fall 2023. 

The scholarship was established in 2021 as a tribute to Rio Salado College Faculty Emeritus Dr. Jean Tease and her late husband Winston who was a well-known community activist in Phoenix. Dr. Tease taught at both Rio Salado and Phoenix College.

The scholarship is offered to a student enrolled at either Rio Salado College or Phoenix College who maintains a minimum 2.5 GPA and is enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours.

“Receiving a scholarship has benefitted my education greatly,” Joyner said. “With additional financial resources, I will be in a position to purchase a much-needed laptop for my courses. Going back to school has truly been a positive in my life and I hope my degree will lead to a permanent position as a teacher.”

Learning on Your Schedule

Joyner said she found online learning to be just as much work as in-person classes, but that the convenience was the biggest draw.

“Managing college with other life responsibilities does get hard at times,” Joyner said. “Sometimes family emergencies come up, or car issues or sick children. However, having a good schedule truly does help.”

Joyner offered several tips to help other students who are considering online classes.

“At the start of each class, I like to review my course syllabus and write important due dates in my personal calendar,” Joyner said. “Next, I figure out what days I will allocate for each class. This helps me to stay on top of assignments and not get behind with life activities.”

As she works to finish her second associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs, Joyner is preparing for life after college.

“My degree will help open new doors in the future,” Joyner said. “There are so many ways to utilize a bachelor’s degree in education such as teaching at a brick-and-mortar school, substitute teaching, or becoming a professional tutor.”

She would even consider teaching how she has learned the past few years – online.

“My future career aspirations include being able to teach online, either locally or overseas,” Joyner said. “When I considered going back to school, it was the online teaching positions that caught my eye. I truly believe that is where the future of education is headed.”