The professors were always there to answer questions, and that’s one of the things I really love about Fitchburg State. The professors are really vested in your success. It’s like a family.
Johanna Viteri ’20 had long ago abandoned dreams of finishing her education. She enrolled at Atlantic Union College in 1988, but after one year of school, she withdrew to care for the ailing grandmother who raised her. “I had to put my education on hold, then I got pregnant with my son,” she recalled. “Life happened. But I always had that dream of finishing my degree.”
Viteri had a job that would pay for college classes, so she took a few online courses in finance and eventually found her way to Fitchburg State. “A good friend of mine told me, ‘Just take one course at a time and you’ll get there.’ I said, ‘That will take me forever.’ But as I moved along, there were opportunities when I could take two courses, or even a summer class. As I went along, I just wanted to get it done.”
Viteri had enjoyed her online classes, but she was in fear of her final mathematics course. She opted for an in-person class, where she felt she could get more support, if she needed it. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and all courses were moved to a remote model. Viteri can laugh now, but she was very apprehensive at the time.
“It was an adjustment, but the instructor was there for us and gave us resources when we didn’t understand the content,” she said. “The professors were always there to answer questions, and that’s one of the things I really love about Fitchburg State. The professors are really vested in your success. It’s like a family.”
Viteri also enjoyed how applicable her classes were to her work at Care Central VNA & Hospice, where her title is “executive assistant” but her reality is wearing many hats.
With her degree complete, Viteri is elated at the completion of a long-held dream. “It’s never too late,” she said. “Learning is a process that should be a lifelong experience. When you stop learning, I think you die. Every day you have to learn.”
This story was first published in the Summer 2020 edition of Contact, the university's alumni magazine.