Tabatha Rhodes 1

BC English professor overcomes fears to earn degrees, find career

BC English professor overcomes fears to earn degrees, find career

Wed Aug 12, 2020

Tabatha Rhodes

Tabatha Rhodes

The perfect time for Tabatha Rhodes to complete her degree would present itself if she waited for it. At least, that’s what she told herself. 

At first, a complicated pregnancy prompted Tabatha to stop attending classes. Then, she spent her days as a busy, stay-at-home mom and a semester off turned into years off. Time moved forward and brought a divorce and, soon after, a full-time job. What it didn’t bring was a flashing alarm sign that said it was time to return to college.

That is, until she decided to make time to focus on her future by changing it today.

Her first task was to develop a plan, which began with a return to Brazosport College to earn her associate degree.

“After I left school, my plan was to come back soon, but what was supposed to be a semester or two turned into six years,” Tabatha said. “It was never the right time. At the time, I had a job, but it wasn’t the career path I wanted to be on. I knew the only way I could do something else — and to have the career I really wanted — was to go back to school.

“I couldn’t keep putting it off,” she added. “Now was the right time.”

Ten years later, Tabatha is thankful that she made the time for college. She not only has earned three degrees, but she is also a professor of English at Brazosport College. Even better, this is a career she is passionate about.

“This has been my goal since 2010 and it’s so surreal to me,” Tabatha said. “When I walked into the classroom for the first time it hit me that I had actually done it. For me, going back to school was a life-altering decision.”

Although returning to college has made a huge difference in her life, Tabatha understands how easy it is to settle into a routine once out of the academic environment.

“Unless you develop a plan and a start date, you’ll always say, ‘I’ll do it next year,’” she said. “What I discovered is that if you are thinking about it now, you should do it now. Don’t put it off.”

Tabatha’s success story could end right here, but it doesn’t.

After earning an associate degree from Brazosport College and a bachelor’s degree from University of Houston-Clear Lake, she wanted to take her momentum into graduate school. Unfortunately, there was a problem.

“I wanted to go back to UH-Clear Lake, but I couldn’t financially do the drive anymore,” she said. “It was just too costly and I was away from my kids too much. I realized that I just couldn’t do it. I thought about quitting because, again, the time wasn’t right. But I was determined and I found another option.”

Tabatha’s solution was working on her master’s degree online through Southern New Hampshire University. Although online learning frightened her, it was the only feasible option for her situation.

“When I first opened up the syllabus and read through it, I honestly didn’t think I could do it,” she said “But I reassured myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. I started organizing a plan, stopped being stubborn, and realized my schooling could be done in a different way.”

Surprisingly, Tabatha not only excelled online, she also enjoyed it.

“Taking online classes was one of the best educational experiences of my life,” Tabatha said. “I found out I loved online learning. Sometimes you need to try new things in order to grow as a student and as a person.”

Having been in similar situations, Tabatha can easily relate with the trepidation many students are feeling this year. However, she’s the first person to tell her students to keep moving forward and not to let adversity get them down.

“You have these expectations of what things are supposed to look like when you go to college,” she said. “Sometimes it just can’t look like how you want it be, and that’s OK.

“But don’t be afraid of online classes,” she added. “You might be surprised and you might like them. Online classes taught me how to be a better student — how to be more organized, how to do research and how to take better notes. It was all on me.”

Today, Tabatha is not only settling in and enjoying her career at Brazosport College, she’s also preparing to begin work toward a doctorate degree. She is exactly where she wants to be at this point in her life, and she attributes it to her decision 10 years ago to stop putting off her education.

“Education really does matter and it’s always going to be a good option,” Tabatha said. “You can’t keep waiting for the right time, because sometimes the right time is now. Some people thought I was a little crazy when I decided to go back to school, but it was a life-changing decision for me.”

Registration is ongoing for Brazosport College’s 2020 Fall semester. For more information, visit brazosport.edu/choose or call the college’s main switchboard at (979) 230-3000.