Jessi Fournier, G'17, G'19
Within each of our Bay Path community members is an inspirational story of perseverance and strength, and we are honored to share them. This narrative originally appeared as part of Bay Path's #MyPath on social media.
"My name is Jessi Fournier and I grew up in western Massachusetts. I grew up in a small town and graduated with about 80 peers that I'd grown up with.
"I was very independent and became vegan at a very early age. That was a huge part of my growing up, promoting advocacy for those who needed advocates for them.
"I was a very young mother. I left college completely while I was a stay-at-home mom then for about ten years. At that point, I was offered a position in a daycare. And when you haven't worked for ten years and haven't finished your college degree, you're like, 'When do I start?'
"I began working there and was immediately drawn to and connected with students who appeared to be diverse learners who needed some extra support.
"I realized that the students that I wanted to work with in the daycare I was at were the ones who were leaving because they needed the support of the public school system. I was going to public schools to meet with their IEP teams and get them the services that they needed.
"That was really my foot in the door when I saw what I wanted to do. I had experience with special education in the public school system and knew what a high need there was.
"Applying to Bay Path for my Master's in Special Education was an obvious choice, a real no-brainer. It was where I knew I belonged. I had read up on the program and knew it would meet my needs in terms of the coursework and the flexibility of the program.
"I never once felt as though the program couldn't back me up when I was struggling through navigating the complexities of being a full-time mom, teacher, and a graduate student.
"What truly kept me going was the unwavering support within the program. Faculty members regularly checked in on students, and supervisors ensured we stayed on track. Through both graduate degree programs, I always felt that I had an advisor or a faculty member I could reach out to.
“I graduated in 2017 with my master's in special education and gained my initial licensure as a special education teacher.
“Public education is challenging. Students aren't always getting their needs met in certain classrooms or school settings and there's a lot of pressure put on educators.
"At some point, I realized that I wasn't able to continue to support not only my students but myself, professionally and personally. I knew that I had to find something else that would continue to allow me to demonstrate my skills and passions in disability and advocacy.
"Bay Path had an opening in their accessibility department. I applied and the rest is history from there.
"As a student at Bay Path, I always felt supported through anything and everything. That's also what drew me to work here as well. There are folks here who will always help you rise up, push you to demonstrate your skills, and propel you forward to wherever you want to be."—Jessi Fournier, MSEd Special Education G'17, EdS Applied Behavior Analysis G'19, Director of Student Accessibility Services at Bay Path