Enrica Baessato is not your typical student. At forty-one years old, she quit her job at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, packed one suitcase, sold most of her furniture, and moved to India to become a full-time online Women’s and Gender Studies student.
She has spent months living in different parts of India, Mexico, Thailand, and now Honduras. “Traveling has always been my passion and traveling with a purpose is one of the most rewarding and transforming experiences I have ever had,” Enrica said. “These past three years have been like three years of study abroad programs, just a little cheaper and a little wilder.”
Time for a change
When Enrica started to consider going back to school, she simply wanted to improve her career opportunities. She searched and found UMass Dartmouth’s Women’s and Gender Studies Online certificate program, and it seemed like a convenient solution.
But it wasn’t enough. “Once I achieved the certificate, I realized that I wanted to know more,” she said. “And the degree in Women’s and Gender Studies combined with a minor in Sustainability Studies could finally allow me to transform my desk work into a field work.”
Advantages of online learning
With one class to go, Baessato is finally at the end of her journey. And she has found some definite advantages to being an online student. For her, face-to-face learning can be uncomfortable, especially when sharing and joining in the discussions.
The online experience is different. “Writing on an online discussion board rather than participating in a discussion in the classroom makes the whole experience more intimate, more free, and allows for a deeper reflection,” Baessato said.
“In fact, the concept of time is different when you are an online student, the back and forth of a discussion usually continues throughout the week, it is a constant building up of ideas and fleshing out of patterns and many times this happens without the direct intervention of professors.”