Sometimes events can shape our lives in ways we never imagined. Such was the case with Barbara Karpinski, professor of psychology and education, when her eight-year-old daughter Susan died of leukemia in 1984.
â€śAfter she passed, I didnâ€™t know what to do with myself,â€ť says Karpinski, who had quit college in her freshman year to get married and have children. She later decided to take one course at County College of Morris (CCM).
â€śI told my professor that if I got an A I would continue with my schooling,â€ť she recalls. She did, and went on to earn an associate degree in social work. From there, she went to Rutgers University to earn a bachelorâ€™s degree and masterâ€™s degree.
While at Rutgers, she taught classes at CCM.
â€śBy 1991, when I was full-time, CCM offered me the opportunity to start an early childhood program,â€ť she says. â€śI was in my forties. I knew little about it. It was a rather new thing making it academic.â€ť She researched the subject by visiting daycare centers and public schools. She joined the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a group that gave her the education and support to put the early childhood curriculum together. The final program she created, with help from her CCM colleagues, began as a certificate and evolved into a two-year degree.
â€śEarly intervention is important because by the time a child is three, enough damage can be done that they may not learn to their full potential,â€ť she says. â€śSince I had a little girl who died so young, I did this in her honor. Rich or poor, we love our children and want the best for them.â€ť
In reflecting on the program, she adds, â€śMy CCM teachers were the ones who encouraged me to do this. I had no idea I was able to do such a thing. I was in my forties when I attended CCM. The lesson learned was that youâ€™re never too old to make a change in your life and reach for something you wished you could have done.â€ť