El Pasoan Monique Mota wasn’t always so keen on the prospect of being an educational diagnostician.
“Working as a special education teacher, I would always see my diagnostician and say to myself, ‘I don’t want his job,'” she said. “Sometimes I would have questions for him, and he would guide me. The more questions I asked, the more interested I became. One thing led to another.”
No kidding. Mota graduated from the online Program Certificate in Educational Diagnostician program at Lamar University in December 2021.
“I kept getting signs,” she said. “My friend and I were both looking into the program. We decided to do it together. I recently took my diagnostician exam and passed it. I wanted to wait until I passed it to apply for a position, which I have done.”
Mota teaches eighth grade at Captain Walter E. Clarke Middle School in her hometown. She also teaches a resource class and serves as the special education department head.
“My decision to enroll at Lamar University was because of the flexibility of the online format,” she said. “I liked that it is fast-paced, and I knew the schedule ahead of time.
“It allowed me to pre-plan dates. I am always pulled into a meeting and staying at school late. I knew I could do seven intense classes. I have a lot going on, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In the 14 months that she was in the program, Mota consistently had enough time to balance work and personal time with the added workload of school.
“The online format made the program manageable,” she said. “I liked that we met weekly with our professors to clarify anything we had worked on or anything coming up.
“Some of the professors allowed us to work ahead. With my busy schedule, it made it easier for me. I could balance schoolwork, my job and my family.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Phoenix in 2005, Mota worked as a clerk in a middle school.
“I didn’t want to teach,” she said. “I am structured. I worked my first year as a teacher in a low-income school near the projects. I had what a lot of people consider ‘the bad kids,’ but I loved it.
“They needed that structure. I had high expectations for them. I was already in the school setting. I love teaching. I have always taught middle school.”
Mota returned to college and graduated with a master’s degree in special education with a concentration in deaf and hard of hearing from Texas Tech University in 2019. She is now in her 17th year as an educator.
“I did my undergrad in person, but my master’s degree was all online,” she said. “I sort of knew what to expect with the program certificate. I was hesitant my first time online. I’m old school. I was more confident this time. I knew I could do it again.”
Mota could not pinpoint a favorite course in the online Program Certificate in Educational Diagnostician program curriculum, but she took away something from each one.
“They were all so interesting — especially the practicums,” she said. “We had more hands-on time with our mentor. I liked seeing the other side of everything.
“As a teacher, you see one side. With a mentor, you get to dig deeper and apply what you are learning in the class. It was awesome.”
During the time Mota spent in college over the last few years, she has had a lot of encouragement from her husband, Armando, and their children — Armando Mota Jr. (32), Ivan Mota (28) and Zenia Gomez-Papa (25).
“I can’t get enough of the love and support of my husband, children and grandchildren,” she said. “They are so proud of me. I am proud of me. I’ve had lots of love and support from friends, family and co-workers.”
Now that Mota is prepared to do a job that she once believed wasn’t for her, she is glad that she found the program certificate at Lamar University to push her toward her goal.
“You have to be prepared for the program,” she said. “It’s important to think about prioritizing and trying to balance your work life, your personal life and your school life.”
Mota, who enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband in her free time, is the first person in her immediate family to earn a graduate degree. She hopes to land her first educational diagnostician role soon.
“This program certificate will definitely help open up opportunities for me,” she said. “There is already an opening in my district, Socorro ISD, that I applied for immediately.
“There is also another opening in a neighboring district. I am so excited. The last two classes that I took at Lamar University were just right to prepare me to become an educational diagnostician. I’m ready.”