Alum rose above challenges to help her students
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- April 28, 2021
- Undergraduate Students
Currently working her “dream job,” Terpening teaches a self-contained classroom at Fairley Elementary School in the Hannibal Central School District near Syracuse, N.Y.
But Terpening’s career journey was far from certain after facing an unexpected challenge. Shortly after graduating from Daemen, Terpening suffered from a traumatic brain injury in early 2009—the victim of a pedestrian hit-and-run crash.
While this was a tragic and life-altering event for Terpening, the experience deepened her resolve to help people—in and out of the classroom—the same drive that guided her to pursue education in the first place.
Recently, Spectrum News profiled Terpening, highlighting her service in helping others overcome similar traumatic experiences.
Paying it forward
Meanwhile, in her own classroom, she draws on her training from Daemen’s education program in pursuit of her students’ success.
Part of her approach to education is an acknowledgement of the challenges—those known and otherwise—facing her students; it’s a default to empathy, which she hopes helps students understand they are not alone with their struggles.
Often, Terpening will cite how she successfully earned a master’s degree, even as she recovered from her brain injury.
These experiences are what she expresses to her students in order to help them feel that they can overcome adversity too.
Her time at Daemen
Terpening knows first-hand the positive impact that education can play in someone’s life.
As a middle- and high-schooler, she was an unmotivated student; this changed after her enrollment at Daemen, she said.
Being part of small classes and a welcoming community—as well as having access to supportive resources—all helped her achieve her goals and led her to where she is today.
Taking advantage of opportunities on campus and through the education program to gain experience in the classroom in both rural and city settings, Terpening also maintained an active presence in the campus community.
She played soccer for four years, as well as participated in the history and government club, and education club. She also became a member of the Special Education Honor Society of Sigma Pi Epsilon Delta.
Following graduation, she completed her New York State certification. All this led her to her first teaching position right after college.
Advice to new students
Terpening’s advice to someone else going through a difficult situation like hers is “to just never give up. Anything is possible with hard work and determination,” she said. “It may not seem like that at the time, but it is a very true statement. I’m living proof.”