The Inspiring Story of Natasha Brown, a Single Mother Who Persevered Through Unexpected Challenges to Achieve Her Educational Aspirations.

Natasha Brown had it all figured out in high school. She was an exceptional student who had earned academic scholarships and had been accepted into several Ivy League schools. However, her plans were turned upside down during her senior year when she unexpectedly became pregnant.

Natasha recalls feeling like a disappointment to herself and her parents, particularly as a first-generation student from a Black family where there were high expectations. Despite her struggles, she refused to give up on her education and continued to work hard while raising her son. “I always knew that education was key for me,” she said. “I’m not going to stay here and wallow. I’m going to try to do what I can to get us out of the situation we’re in.”

Her perseverance paid off when she earned a degree in information processing, which helped her secure a job at AT&T in 1999. Over the next decade, she worked her way up the corporate ladder to management positions. However, she hit a roadblock when she realized that she needed an advanced degree to move up to the executive level.

In 2014, Natasha received an email from the National Alliance for Communications Technology Education and Learning (NACTEL), a group that AT&T is a member of, offering education benefits through Pace University. She seized the opportunity and enrolled in Pace’s online courses, which suited her lifestyle as a working mother of three.

Natasha appreciated the flexibility of the online courses, which allowed her to study at a sustainable pace while juggling work and family responsibilities. Her professors were also supportive and accommodating when she needed to postpone or complete work early or late due to unexpected events, such as surgeries in 2019.

Furthermore, the technology requirements for the courses were minimal, which made the program accessible to a wider range of learners. Natasha was able to earn both a bachelor’s degree in professional technology studies and a master’s of science in information technology from Pace.

Thanks to the support of NACTEL and Pace, Natasha fulfilled her long-held educational aspirations and has since advanced to become a lead for product management and development at AT&T. She believes that having postsecondary education was crucial for her personal growth and development. At 51 years old, she plans to pursue an MBA and eventually a doctorate degree, reminding others not to give up on their dreams, as a deferred dream can still become a reality.