Amanda Rooney unearthed her long-term career goal in early childhood education while serving in the United States Air Force. And after four years of service, she turned to Lorain County Community College to achieve that goal.
Rooney joined the Air Force to help pay for college after graduating from North Ridgeville High School in 2011. The senior airman spent her four years stationed in Fort Gordon, GA working as an intelligence analyst. She said it was a very intense and strenuous job, but also pretty cool.
“I worked a lot with the NSA,” was all she said.
The National Security Agency provides foreign signals intelligence to the nation’s policymakers and military forces. While she wasn’t tied up with top-secret intel, Rooney spearheaded an inner-city education program for active-duty military members. It began with one gym class and from there, more courses were added including math and reading.
“It evolved and just took off,” Rooney said. “And I realized, I’m pretty good at this.”
In 2016 Rooney returned home and a few years later – after starting a family and after her husband earned his associate degree from LCCC – followed her passion for education. Her first stop was LCCC’s Veterans and Military Services office, which acts as a liaison with the Veterans Administration to certify enrollment for students using G.I. Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation benefits.
Beyond the academic assistance, Rooney found a sense of community within the office, and a way to apply her passion for education. She served on a panel that helped LCCC academic advisors better understand how to talk to veterans about their G.I. Bill or benefits. She’s also the event coordinator for LCCC’s Veterans Club, hosting bake sales and lunches with local veterans.
“I got involved to make friends and connections on campus,” Rooney said. “Being part of the Veterans’ Club has allowed me to meet new people, especially since most of my classes are online.”
As Rooney began working toward her associate of arts degree, with plans to transfer into Ashland University’s Bachelor of Science in Education through the University Partnership, she said LCCC’s flexibility and student services helped her balance a busy life. The mother of two enrolled her children in LCCC’s Children’s Learning Center, which is a model early childhood program for children 18 months to 12 years old. Having her children on campus was comforting and convenient.
“With my son at the Children’s Learning Center I could have dedicated study time,” she said. “The teachers there also caught my son’s speech delay, and we were able to get him in speech therapy which has been a great benefit.”
Rooney is also a Girl Scout leader to a Daisy troop of 16 girls, part of the Early Childhood Learning Center PTA in North Ridgeville, and a girls’ soccer coach. Beyond allowing time for everything and everyone that’s important to her, Rooney said she started using her classroom learning in her personal life almost immediately.
“I have been able to apply the philosophies I learned in my Intro to Teaching class to teaching my children at home, as well as with my Girl Scout troop,” Rooney said. “The class has inspired me think of how I want to teach the young children that I have an impact on.”
As Rooney graduates from LCCC and begins her University Partnership journey, she said LCCC’s student-focused approach has made reaching the goal that emerged years ago possible.
“LCCC has a lot to offer,” Rooney said. “From the clubs to the Children’s Learning Center to the writing clinic to the fitness center, there are so many resources that can help students succeed in different aspects of their lives.”