May 14, 2024

Tech Triumphs and Embracing Motherhood with Alumni Taylor Woodson

Tech Triumphs and Embracing Motherhood with Alumni Taylor Woodson

This past weekend, we celebrated the incredible mothers in our lives. At Atlas, we are constantly amazed by the strength and dedication of the mothers within our program. Today, we shine a spotlight on recent graduate Taylor Woodson, whose journey as a single mother is a testament to the power of education and unwavering determination. Learn more about Taylor's story and pursuit of balancing motherhood with her tech dreams.  

Can you tell us what initially motivated you to pursue your education at Atlas School?

Taylor: The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was a turning point in my life. As a hairstylist, I found myself without work for six months, which was a frightening and uncertain experience. This challenging period forced me to reevaluate my career path and consider what I wanted for my future and my family.

Motherhood played a significant role in my decision to pursue education at Atlas School. I realized that I needed a more stable career that could provide secure pay, insurance, retirement benefits, and other crucial factors to support my daughter financially. Additionally, I wanted the flexibility to be a working mother while still having quality time to spend with my daughter, as she is my top priority.

Furthering my education at Atlas School became the clear path to achieve these goals. By gaining new skills and knowledge, I believed I could open doors to better career opportunities that would allow me to be a strong provider for my family while also being present in my daughter's life. At the end of the day, her well-being and our time together are what matter most to me.

The pandemic taught me the importance of adaptability, personal growth, and the pursuit of a fulfilling career that aligns with my values as a mother. Enrolling at Atlas School is not only an investment in my own future but also in the future of my daughter and our family.

Juggling motherhood and schoolwork can be demanding. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while in the program, and how did you overcome them?

Taylor: One of the biggest hurdles was carving out enough quality time with my daughter amidst the intensive demands of the program. I had to get creative, making the most of small pockets of time throughout the day to connect with her, whether it was over breakfast, during car rides, or at bath time. I found that being fully present in those moments, setting aside distractions, and focusing on our relationship made a big difference. It was also important to communicate openly with my daughter, explaining why I needed to dedicate time to my studies and reassuring her of my love.

To avoid burnout, I had to be intentional about self-care - taking breaks, getting enough rest, eating well, exercising, and making time for hobbies I enjoy. Building a support network of family, friends, and fellow students who understood my situation was incredibly helpful. Enlisting help with childcare when I needed focused study time was also key.

Ultimately, keeping sight of my "why" - the reasons I embarked on this educational journey - gave me the motivation to push through the tough times. Celebrating small milestones along the way and remembering that the sacrifices were temporary and would pay off in the long run helped me maintain perspective. While balancing motherhood and school is certainly challenging, it's also deeply rewarding to invest in yourself and work towards creating a better future for your family.

A strong support system can be crucial for success. Did you have any specific people or resources at Atlas School or in your personal life that helped you navigate your academic journey?

Having a robust support system was absolutely essential to my success at Atlas School. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had unwavering support from multiple family members throughout my academic journey.

My brother Stephen and his wife Tabitha were instrumental in helping me navigate the challenges of balancing school and motherhood. They were always there to lend a helping hand. It was a tremendous blessing that their daughters were close in age to my own daughter. The cousins loved spending time together, which brought joy to my daughter's life and also afforded me some much-needed study time or time to network.

In addition to Stephen and Tabitha, I had the steadfast support of my parents, stepparents, and my daughter's other grandparents. Knowing that I had such a wide circle of loved ones rooting for me and willing to step in and help with my daughter when needed gave me the peace of mind to focus on my studies.

Whether it was providing childcare, preparing meals, offering moral support, or simply being there to listen when I needed to vent, my family's unwavering commitment to my success made all the difference. I truly couldn't have done it without them. Their love, generosity, and belief in me were the cornerstone of my support system.

Did being a mother influence the way you approached your studies? Did it shape your focus or career aspirations?

Becoming a mother has fundamentally transformed the way I approach my education and career aspirations. Before having my daughter, my studies and professional goals were primarily self-focused. While I've always been driven and ambitious, motherhood has heightened my sense of purpose and determination to succeed in ways I couldn't have anticipated.

Now, every decision I make, every challenge I tackle, and every late night I spend studying is influenced by the realization that it isn't just about me anymore. I have my daughter's future to consider. She is my driving force, my constant source of motivation to excel in my studies and build a successful career.

Knowing that my daughter is watching me and learning from my example pushes me to be the best version of myself. I want her to see firsthand the value of hard work, dedication, and the transformative power of education. By modeling resilience, perseverance, and a strong work ethic, I hope to instill in her the belief that she, too, can overcome obstacles and achieve her dreams.

How did you manage your time effectively to balance your responsibilities as a mother with your academic commitments?

Balancing motherhood and academic commitments was a constant juggling act that required flexibility, adaptability, and a lot of trial and error. There was no magic formula or perfect schedule that made it all seamless. Instead, I had to navigate each day as it came, making the most of the time and energy I had available.

Truthfully, looking back, I'm not entirely sure how I managed to keep all the balls in the air. It was a whirlwind of dropping my daughter off at school or daycare, rushing to classes, studying during naps and late at night, and somehow finding pockets of time for family meals and bedtime stories. I often felt like I was barely keeping my head above water, just doing my best to stay afloat amidst the constant demands on my time and attention.

However, through the chaos, I discovered an inner strength and resilience I didn't know I possessed. I learned to prioritize ruthlessly, focusing on the most critical tasks and letting go of perfection. I became a master at multitasking, maximizing every spare moment to review flashcards or read a few extra pages. I also learned to ask for help when I needed it, leaning on my support system to lighten the load.

While there were days when I felt overwhelmed and stretched thin, I kept pushing forward, fueled by my determination to succeed for both myself and my daughter. I discovered that the key to managing my time was not about finding a perfect balance but rather about being fully present and focused on whatever task was in front of me, whether it was playtime with my daughter or cramming for an exam.

Looking back, I realize that the secret to juggling motherhood and academia was not some elaborate time management system but rather a combination of grit, adaptability, and an unwavering commitment to my goals. It was about waking up each day and doing what needed to be done, even when it felt impossible. And somehow, through the exhaustion and the chaos, I found a way to make it work.

How did you effectively showcase the skills and knowledge you gained at Atlas School to potential employers?

Recognizing the importance of building relationships and making connections, I focused heavily on networking. I attended industry events, joined professional organizations, and reached out to alumni from Atlas School who were already established in their careers. Through these interactions, I gained invaluable insights into the job market, learned about potential opportunities, and formed meaningful connections with individuals who could offer guidance and support.

Did you have any specific needs or considerations as a mother during your job search (e.g., flexible hours, childcare options)? If so, how did you navigate these in the interview process?

As a mother, I had specific needs and considerations that were non-negotiable when it came to my job search. With a young child at home, I knew that I needed a position that offered a high degree of flexibility, particularly in terms of working hours and location. Traditional 9-to-5 office jobs with rigid schedules and long commutes simply weren't feasible for my family's needs.

Navigating these requirements during the job search process can be daunting, as not all employers are open to or understanding of the unique challenges faced by working mothers. However, I knew that finding a job that accommodated my needs was crucial for both my professional success and my family's well-being.

Fortunately, my strong networking efforts paid off in ways I couldn't have anticipated. Through the connections I had built, I was made aware of a job opportunity that seemed tailor-made for my situation. The position was fully remote, allowing me to work from home and eliminate the need for a commute. Additionally, the company offered flexible hours, empowering me to structure my workday in a way that best suited my family's schedule.

Tell us about your new job! As you embark on your new career, how do you envision managing your professional responsibilities with motherhood?

As I embark on my new career with Equility, I am filled with excitement and anticipation. The company's mission to revolutionize financial auditing and accuracy verification aligns perfectly with my passion for leveraging technology to solve complex problems. In my role as a Software Developer, I will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of a cutting-edge platform that has the potential to transform the industry.

I am eager to apply the skills and knowledge I acquired during my time at Atlas School to make a meaningful impact in my new position. The education and training I received have provided me with a solid foundation in software development, problem-solving, and critical thinking – all of which will be invaluable as I tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

As I step into this new chapter of my professional life, I am also mindful of the importance of managing my responsibilities as a mother. Balancing a demanding career with the needs of my family will undoubtedly require careful planning, flexibility, and a strong support system.

Drawing from my experience of juggling motherhood and my studies at Atlas School, I know that the key to success lies in taking things one day at a time. Just as I navigated the challenges of balancing school and parenting responsibilities, I will approach my new job with the same mindset of adaptability and resilience.

What are your long-term career goals, and how does your experience as a mother inform your future aspirations?

As I look to the future, I am filled with excitement and determination. My long-term career goals are ambitious, and I firmly believe that the sky's the limit when it comes to what I can achieve. With the solid foundation I have built through my education at Atlas School and the valuable experience I am gaining in my current role at Equility, I am confident in my ability to reach new heights in my professional journey.

Why do you believe education is important for single mothers, and what impact do you think it can have on their lives and their families?

Education is a key to unlocking opportunities and breaking the cycle of poverty. For single mothers, who often face significant financial challenges and barriers to advancement, pursuing higher education can be a game-changer. By acquiring new skills, knowledge, and credentials, single mothers can expand their career prospects, increase their earning potential, and achieve greater financial stability for themselves and their children.

What advice would you give to mothers considering pursuing an education or entering the workforce?

As you embark on this journey, remember that you are not alone. Countless mothers have walked this path before you and have emerged stronger, wiser, and more empowered. Seek out their stories, their advice, and their support. Surround yourself with a network of people who believe in you and your goals, whether it's family, friends, mentors, or fellow mothers who are on a similar journey.

Remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate your achievements along the way. Pursuing education or entering the workforce as a mother is no small feat, and every milestone, no matter how small, deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated. Take pride in your courage, your resilience, and your commitment to creating a better future for yourself and your family.

In the end, the key to success lies within you. Believe in yourself, stay focused on your goals, and keep pushing forward, one day at a time. Don't give up, keep swimming, and just do it. Your strength, your determination, and your love for your family will carry you through any challenge that comes your way. Embrace the journey, learn from the struggles, and know that you are capable of achieving extraordinary things.

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