Student Spotlight
Monica Barksdale
Monica Barksdale is pursuing a degree in Computer Science. She's a mother of 7 who works as a Licensed Practical Nurse at a Veterans Home.

Monica Barksdale is a no-nonsense adult learner. With 7 children, 3 dogs, her own business, and a full-time job, she doesn't have a moment to waste. Taking classes at Onondaga Community College along with all of the other moving parts in her life is a big challenge, and she's ready for it. "Failure is not an option. I need to do this, accomplish this, get through this because it's going to be a stepping stone towards greater things."

Barksdale grew up in Syracuse, earned her GED, and became a Certified Nursing Assistant. While raising her family she became a Licensed Practical Nurse. She now works at the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford, about 60 miles south of Syracuse.

There were some key moments in her journey to enrolling at OCC for the spring 2024 semester, the same year in which she would turn 40. "It was an evolution. I took some time to develop. My husband blessed me with the ability to take 3 years off work to raise our 3 youngest. I used that time to self-educate. I probably read more than 150 books. There were all personal development, self-discipline... valuable stuff."

Another influential experience came from a 6-month-long Google Career Certificate course. "It really piqued my interest in software development and coding. I found myself in my happy place."

That brought her to OCC and the Computer Science major where she is taking two classes this semester and plans to keep taking two at a time. It will take her close to 4 years to complete her associate degree, but she's fine with that. Slow and steady will get her where she wants to go. "I have self-discipline and I'm staying in touch with my future self. That's all it boils down to. You have to have the ability to handle your business. It doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn't matter that you didn't have enough sleep. It doesn't matter that you don't feel well. You have to do something everyday to work towards what you are trying to do."

When Barksdale returns to campus in the fall, she'll do so with her oldest daughter who is currently attending a four-year college out of state and wants to be closer to her family. "I think it will be fun. She's shaped up to be a phenomenal young lady. I'm very proud of her. I'm very very blessed."

Onondaga Community College