Life has slowed down since the social distancing order has quarantined Tara Gates ’20 MA, Education, with her husband and children at home. She had spent a lot of her time on campus as a full-time student and Learning Support Services intern this semester. Tara's final semester has been bittersweet as she completed her degree remotely. She missed running into fellow students to chat and growing relationships with professors, who have been some of the most helpful and encouraging people Tara has met. Leaving teaching after 18 years to prepare to work in disability and learning support services in higher education was a huge leap of faith. Now, with hiring freezes in higher education and the inability to relocate, Tara, who is a certified special education teacher, has decided to return to teaching next year. She remains optimistic that she will be able to pursue her dream job at some point and turns to her family for extra support in these hard times.
For starters, there is a new addition to the house. Doc, Tara’s newly adopted puppy, has been a great distraction, as he requires quite a lot of attention. Cooking has become a group effort, and the kids help Tara with menu planning and kitchen support. She makes sure to challenge her children, who are missing sports desperately, with physical activities. Daily walks help Tara check in with her husband, who runs a small business and is working quickly to diversify some businesses practices. Zoom meetings with undergraduate friends from all over the U.S. serve as weekly happy hours to catch up and share what is going on in different corners of the world, and Tara is thankful for being able to reach family and friends easily online. Tara and her family continue to be active members of their community by grocery shopping for and helping older people in her neighborhood, tutoring students struggling with online learning, and donating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to a local homeless shelter.
As huge fans of Villanova Athletics, Tara and her family will continue to visit and support their favorite teams. Her time on campus has been very special, she says, ““I feel very proud to now call myself an alumna of Villanova University.”