While working as a special education teacher’s aide at Whitney Point Elementary School, Nakeesta Langton knew she had found her calling.
As she worked with students on their lessons, she functioned a bit like a mini-teacher. Noticing her interest, Pamela Carr – the teacher she aided – encouraged Nakeesta to take the next step toward achieving her dream.
“Through Pam Carr’s encouragement and the support of my loving husband Chad, I enrolled into college,” she said.
She enrolled in the college’s Teacher Education program, part of the General Studies A.S. degree program in Liberal Arts. SUNY Broome gave her a solid start, and not only due to its rigorous academics, applied learning opportunities and seamless transfer to schools such as SUNY Cortland. Growing up, Nakeesta’s late godfather was the college’s basketball coach and she frequently visited BCC – as the college was then called – for games.
“I grew up loving this campus – the community of it, the closeness and the family of it. It made me fall in love with it. For me, it was a no-brainer to go here first,” she said.
Mom, student, tutor, leader
Nakeesta had put aside the prospect of higher education as she focused on her role as a wife and stay-at-home mom during her children’s important developmental years. While returning to college as an older student can be daunting, she made the transition to college life easily, drawing on her experience both as a mom and teacher’s aide helping others with their homework.
“My kids think it’s kind of neat. They think it’s cool that mom is going to school. Their good scores on tests go on the fridge, and sometimes they say, ‘Here’s a good one, Mom; you should post it,’” she reflected. “School is a part of life; it takes determination and striving.”
She has enjoyed all of her professors, and counting off a list of their names: Dr. Leira Manso and Dr. Phyllis Amenda in History, Philosophy and Social Science. Dr. Courtney O’Hagen in psychology, Professor Chris Origer in English and Professor Lenny Grozier in Early Childhood Education. Instructors Barbara Trimm and Erin Potter in Physical Sciences, Pamela Troshan in sign language and Rebekah Edwards in the Learning Assistance Department. BECA Club advisor Christine Webb.
“I haven’t had a poor experience. Everybody has been amazing and supportive,” she said.
She is also highly active outside of the classroom and her required field experience – as a tutor, a student worker in the Accessibility Resources Office, and a member of multiple clubs, including the American Sign Language Club and Phi Theta Kappa.
Nakeesta is also president of the Broome Educators of Children Association, one of the most active clubs on campus. In addition to professional development workshops, the club also raises money through multiple events – from bake sales and volleyball tournaments to the Scholastic book fair – to support the B.C. Center, which provides quality daycare for the children of students and the larger campus community.
“I’ve got a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets. I’m trying to make the most of it and get experience,” she said. “It’s very complicated, but I do it all from 8 to 2. After hours, I’m a mom and college gets turned off, excluding homework. During those hours, I’m no different from any other student on campus.”
Now in her fourth semester, Nakeesta will transfer to SUNY Cortland this fall via the Path to Cortland Program. She is hoping to teach students in the third through sixth grade range in the community – and give back to her alma mater someday, perhaps as an adjunct instructor or professor.
“During the summer, I want to give back to the college that gave so much to me. It’s been amazing,” she said.