Student Spotlight: Erika Bickford | Burlington, VT

Erika currently lives in Burlington, Vermont and she attends the Master of Arts in Teaching program at USC as a credential-seeking, multi-subject candidate. She is scheduled to graduate in December, and plans to teach as an elementary classroom teacher. She is also a proud career changer, read more about her story below!


Changing careers can be scary. However, it can also be incredibly exciting and rewarding, especially if you’re following your passion. Pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of Southern California has put me on the path toward becoming a teacher, which I finally realized is my calling. I may have taken a roundabout route to get here, but better late than never I suppose!

I attended Northeastern University in Boston and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. I worked in HR for about five years, but during this time, I began to feel like maybe corporate America was not the place for me. I tutored elementary students and volunteered at local school events during my free time, and slowly but surely, it felt like I was meant to be a teacher. Working with students sparked something in me; it simply felt right.

I was working as a recruiter at Facebook when I finally decided to apply for the Master of Arts in Teaching program at USC. We spend such a large portion of our lives working, so it’s crucial that we do what we love. Facebook is an amazing company. I loved the people and atmosphere, but when it came down to it, the work I was doing was not meaningful to me on a personal level. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I want to do my part to make this world a better place. As teachers, I truly believe we have that power.

I took the leap! After many conversations with my Admissions Counselor (thank you Ben Posner!), I finally decided that the Master of Arts in Teaching program was the perfect fit for me. Rossier School of Education is a top-ranked program, and I loved the focus on urban education. I was nervous about the online aspect at first, but after learning that it was much more interactive than your usual online program, I felt I would get the same education and support as I would if I attended a physical campus. Plus, the flexibility of taking classes from home was a huge perk in my opinion.

A lot has changed for me in the past year. I moved home to Vermont after being accepted into the program. I always wanted to be closer to family, so the timing seemed right once I could attend school from anywhere in the country. I live in Vermont, I student teach in Vermont, but my classmates are living all over the world. How cool is that? As I embark on my final semester at USC Rossier, I now believe the online format has actually allowed me to form closer relationships with both my classmates and professors than any on-campus program would have afforded. My classmates are my friends. We call, we text, we email and we support each other. We have not yet met in person, but at this point, that just seems like a formality. I look forward to seeing them at graduation! #FightOn