Project ACCCESS definitely had an impact on my academic career. I began teaching high school mathematics after leaving a corporate job and immediately discovered a hidden passion for teaching math. Although my new career paid astronomically less than my previous job, it was shockingly more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. I quickly learned, however, that the high school environment required many different non-teaching responsibilities that ended up not being a good fit for me. I just wanted to teach math and hoped that my students would have an inkling of interest in what I was teaching.
While working this job full-time, I taught mathematics as an adjunct professor at a community college. Even though my course met on Saturdays for three hours, I instantly knew that I had finally found the perfect environment to share my love of mathematics and had to find a job in this new environment. Shortly after, I landed a full-time job teaching math at a community college, and was accepted in the first cohort of Project ACCCESS. I had no idea of what to expect from Project ACCCESS, but I knew that anything would be helpful due to my limited teaching experience and training as well as my lack of interactions with other faculty.
Project ACCCESS not only filled in the missing pieces but was instrumental in catapulting my career in academia. Interacting with colleagues in Cohort 1 was invaluable. Because we were all new to the teaching profession, the timing of the connections formed was perfect. Not only were we young in our careers, but we were like-minded in our efforts to increase student success and willing to try new things to enhance student learning. We received encouragement, guidance, and support as we navigated through the expectations of our respective colleges as well as our own expectations. I personally experienced a greater awareness from our group discussions, knowledge from so many conference presentations, and recognition of the importance of research through the “Something That Works” classroom projects. I did not know it at the time, but Project ACCCESS was developing leaders in the classroom.
Project ACCCESS provided me with the right motivation and inspiration and gave me the momentum to strive to be an agent of change in the classroom. It was through this experience that I learned to be a better teacher by continuously learning and finding innovative ways to reach my students. It was through this experience that I gained the foundation to be a better leader in academia. And for that, I am truly thankful for Project ACCCESS.