Veronica West is having quite a year.
In addition to graduating with Boise State University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies in May 2023, West published a children’s book, Nova’s School Transition, in the same month.
“I was talking with one of my professors, Margaret Sass, and trying to figure out what to do for my capstone final project,” she said. “I had something different in mind. She asked me questions about what I am passionate about. My children definitely come first.”
West was teaching at Acorn Learning Center, a private elementary school in Twin Falls, Idaho, when the pandemic hit. The shutdown led her to return to college after graduating from the College of Southern Idaho with an associate degree and becoming a mother in 2008.
“We tried to do Zoom a couple of times with 5-year-olds, which proved complicated,” she said. “With that unknown, I decided that my own kids were doing school online, so why not myself? My husband, Kade, talked me into going back.”
While at Acorn Learning Center, West taught both of her children, Jackson (14) and Mia (12). The inspiration to write the book came when her daughter had difficulty moving on to middle school.
“My son had an easy transition, but my daughter was nervous and timid,” she said. “It can be scary. All children learn and experience life differently. I needed to give her more support.
“Margaret said, ‘I bet there are other kids out there like that.’ Lo and behold, I did some research and there are many books out there about the first day of school or starting at a new school.”
Turning the Page
West was born in Guatemala but was adopted and moved to the United States when she was three months old. She grew up in Buhl, Idaho, and had a good idea of what kind of adult she would become.
“I have always been a nurturer,” she said. “Ever since I was little, I told my mom that I couldn’t wait to be a mom when I grow up.
“I worked in daycare and as a babysitter. I was looking into behavioral therapy and counseling at the College of Southern Idaho. Going through that, I fell in love with education.”
Although she had been out of school for more than a decade, West did not miss a beat when she chose Boise State and got rolling.
“It was great because the coaches said I set myself up amazingly to come back to school,” she said. “They said I could do a lot of things, and talking with them was so helpful.
“They set me up with the interdisciplinary professional studies program. I loved that all of my credits transferred over and I could dive deeper into what I am interested in. Education is my passion.”
The flexibility of the online format helped West balance being a mom with school without missing out on her children’s lives.
“Online was amazing,” she said. “It was fun. It was also a great learning experience for the children. We would all sit down and do a study session.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my husband. It was definitely a family situation. While they were at school, I could utilize that time and be a mom afterward.”
Although West was not required to complete writing the book for the capstone course, she wanted to see it through. Nova’s School Transition (Nova is Mia’s middle name) went live on Amazon on May 12. It includes pictures of her family, along with some personal tips and tricks.
“I have had a lot of support from the community,” she said. “My favorite part about this process is I took it to the school where I worked and read it to the different age levels there. They were amazed.
“They said, ‘I know that kid’ and ‘I feel this way, too.’ I loved getting that feedback from them. It made me think maybe I should write another one.”
Happily Ever After
In addition to graduating with a bachelor’s degree and publishing a book, West made an investment in her health by taking the course IPS 460 Dimensions of Wellness and enrolling in BroncoFit, resulting in her completing a 10K, during her final semester.
“It was pretty awesome,” she said. “I love the community support. I’ve had multiple offers to go back to work. My son is starting driver’s ed. Once he can drive, then I will be able to take on more. I could do teaching, but I may be looking at something else.
“Sometimes it’s easier for me to talk to little kids than it is for me to talk to adults. Children are tiny humans. They are intelligent, smart beings. It’s our job to convey what they are thinking, feeling or experiencing. That’s where I find my passion. I want to help them be the best versions of themselves.”
West had her family on hand to support her when she received her bachelor’s degree in person at commencement.
“It was something to have them watch me go across the stage and walk,” she said. “It was awesome to look back and see my kids standing at the fence line, yelling for me.
“It was pretty awesome to see them and their excitement. I wanted to go back to school to show my kids that continuing education is important at any age. If you stop, you can always go back.”
Although becoming an author wasn’t on West’s radar when she enrolled at Boise State, it was the icing on the cake of an experience that led to a huge transition of her own.
“I would highly recommend the online program to anybody — especially to those people who are working,” she said. “I definitely got good value out of it. I would tell anybody considering the program to trust the process and know that you got this.”
Learn More About Interdisciplinary Professional Studies
Want to learn more about Boise State’s Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies? Join us for an online information session or contact a student success coach.