By Paula Justice
Jetti Mathews explored several campuses before making the decision to become a Texas Wesleyan Ram: the determinant – a birthday card.
“What nailed it down [at Wesleyan] is they sent me a birthday card, and all the staff signed it personally,” Mathews said. “If they take that much time on something like a birthday card, then they would definitely do well in helping me succeed.”
With success in mind, Mathews begins each day with prayer. With spiritual preparations complete, she readies her daughter for school – then herself. Her focus is clear.
“What I really want to do is teach,” she said. “I want to rectify as many injustices as I can. Children are subject to adults. Their voice is not as loud and as impactful. I want to be their voice.”
Mathews, 33, has a single source of strength. She is a Christian. Her spiritual life is the catalyst for how she parents and why she will become an educator.
“I’m walking in the destiny I was called and made to be. I was wired and designed to teach numbers,” Mathews said. “To know what it feels like to walk in what I’ve been called and designed to be – that particular feeling – it feels so good. Why do something else?”
Currently a senior liberal studies major, Mathews chose the education cluster to prepare for her career in education. But, becoming a teacher is not the only aspiration of this Ram.
“One day, I want to open my own charter school and group home,” she said.
Fueled by determination, Mathews commutes to Wesleyan each weekday and hurries to class. The lessons are learned, notes taken, and then she’s off to work for a few hours.
“The biggest obstacle would have to be finances,” Mathews said. “Because I’m a single mother. There’s no way I can do a full-time job, go to school full-time, and be the one to raise my child. She’s the reason why I push so hard.”
Mathews picks up her daughter after a full day of class and work. The highlight of the evening is quality-time with her daughter, Kayden.
Kayden, 5, shares her thoughts about her mother being a student.
“I like that mama goes to school like me,” Kayden said. “She’s smart, too.”
Dr. Patsy Robles-Goodwin, associate professor of education and director of the ESL/Bilingual Program at Texas Wesleyan confirms Kayden’s assertion. She smiles in delight as she recounts having instructed Mathews in two education courses.
“She really wants to make a difference,” Robles-Goodwin said. “She has a goal, and I think as she takes little steps, she’s going to get to her goal. She’s very determined.”
Robles-Goodwin, who holds her Ph.D. in early childhood education, was able to sit with Mathews’ and talk about her life since becoming a Ram.
“When she felt comfortable with me she opened up, and she would share her experience. That’s when I learned that she was a single mom coming back to school,” Robles-Goodwin said. “She was trying to juggle the school, the work, the family, [and] the projects. In education, there are a lot of projects.”
She leans back in the chair behind her desk and nods her head in reflection.
“Jetti is going to be a good role model for her child because of what she’s been able to accomplish,” Roble-Goodwin said.
As for the Mathews’ girls, their home is quiet at night – no sound from television or radio. Kayden is fast asleep. Now, it’s time to review class-notes, read several chapters of several books and complete homework assignments. Mathews does all of this for Kayden and the children she will educate.
“I feel the same way about other children as I feel about my baby,” Mathews said. “I feel that their needs should be met. Sometimes they [disadvantaged children] have to carry a burden that they didn’t choose. I want them to know that there are other options.”