BAD ASS OF THE WEEK: AMI SHURTLEFF
An inspirational story for all women and single mothers out there. Despite the obstacles she has faced over the years, sheer determination won and she has landed the first in a series of dream jobs teaching multimedia classes for ages 7-12.
I can only imagine how difficult being a mother must be. Let alone a single mother feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Ami somehow managed to raise her daughter while working full time and going to school to pursue her dreams.
What were you doing for a living to support your family while pursuing your degree?
“I had a long career in cosmetology and cut hair to support my daughter and me. It wasn’t easy by any means, but the motivation of caring for her and not wanting to let go of my own dreams pushed me when I needed it. I sustained an ankle injury and went through surgery, in 2006 while still in school, trying to get an AA degree in Liberal Arts. I also injured my knee, 2 weeks before graduating with my multimedia AA degree and needed surgery for that, too. I was no longer able to stand for extended periods of time. Which meant that not only was I unable to rely on cosmetology to support us, but I may never be able to teach as that too requires long periods of standing. My dream of teaching was threatened; but I knew I had to persevere. I had to keep going.”
That must have been terrifying. Having the proverbial blanket ripped out from under you is never easy. How did you manage after such a traumatic event? What advice would you give other women and single mothers out there pursuing their education while working their asses off?
“I essentially had to start from scratch after that. I moved from Sacramento to the bay area and pursued an education in multimedia design/production, ect. Everyone who wants to pursue an education can find a way. Community colleges offer financial aid and if you qualify they will waive tuition fees for those with low income. They make it easy and encourage your choice to educate yourself or learn a trade. Thankfully I was able to receive financial aid and due to low income, qualified for free tuition. If I was able to do it, you can too!”
I have nothing but respect and admiration for you and all other mothers out there who have fought to care for their children and yet found a way to remember themselves in the process. Every good mother is a hero in my book. We are fortunate to live in a community that provides affordable and accessible education. We all have the power of knowledge in our grasp. You just have to reach for it!
After all that Ami, who’s lucky enough to have you as a teacher now?
“Currently working a dream job at “Freshi Media” as a Multimedia instructor working with kids ages 7-12. A good friend and I had been meeting regularly discussing upcoming film projects and mentioned that “Freshi Media” was looking for teachers. I was floored that she even thought to mention it. I’m so happy to be where I am! I feel as though I’ve been able to combine two dreams and two educations, bringing every bit of hard work and struggle to fruition.”
Righteous! Congratulations a thousand times over! What ae your classes like? What do and your kids get to work on together?
“We get to do a little bit of everything! Students are shown the fundamentals of stop motion animation, video game design, app building and digital illustration such as cartoons. Working with ages 7-12 in one class can be a bit difficult at times when trying to juggle the varying experience levels each child has. For example a 7 year old who has never seen the software we are working with that day will need a bit more personalized attention than the 12 year old who has already used the programs in our curriculum. At the end of the day despite the juggling act, we all (students and teachers alike) share a love for what we are learning. Being young at heart, it’s awesome getting to “geek out” with the kids and even play a few video games with them at the end of class.”
EPIC. “Freshi Media” and your students are lucky to have you Ami; as is our community at large.
I’ve been lucky enough to know Ami since childhood. She has always inspired me throughout the years and I am so excited that she has given me the opportunity to share her story with you all. Mothers of the world, your sacrifice is forgotten by no one. Least of all your children. I salute and thank you all.
It doesn’t stop there, dudes. Outside of the classroom Ami has been working with a friend on educational/tutorial “Let’s Play” video games. When Ami isn’t teaching she is a freelance web page designer, videographer AND if you’re lucky enough you may have caught one her performances as a live doll for the band Victoria and The Vaudvillains. UNSTOPPABLE! 😉
Check out Ami’s WordPress site: firstname.lastname@example.org