When Sylvia Okada Yamada discovered one of her sons was a gifted learner, she decided it was time to act upon her love for teaching. A long-time champion of improved resources for gifted students, Yamada had two important requirements for the school she would ultimately attend.
“I wanted to get into gifted and creative education, and given my circumstances, I did a lot of research and it took me about four months,” Yamada says. “I even had a spreadsheet looking at schools because it had to be a good program from a good school and it had to be completely online. Fortunately, UGA offered all that.”
Sylvia Okada Yamada attends the University of Georgia online from her home in Sao Paolo, Brazil. She has lived on three continents and earned degrees from universities in the Philippines and Japan in management economics and cross-cultural studies.
Yamada admits to being less than comfortable with technology and unsure about learning in an online environment.
“I’d never taken any online courses, so this was my first experience,” Yamada says. “I started in the summer, and I’m not actually tech savvy and I wondered how I’d do with it. Once the course started and I got into it, I stopped thinking about the technology and found myself immersed in my coursework.”
Yamada ultimately wants to use her degree to become a gifted education coordinator at an international school similar to the one her sons attend in Sao Paolo. “I chose this [program] for personal reasons, and I also think it’s a good way for me to re-enter school and re-align my professional objectives with my personal ones. It’s been a huge learning curve for me because my degrees aren’t in education, but I would say [with] teaching English, the experience is there. It’s a huge learning curve but if you’re into it, you can definitely succeed.”
Yamada plans to graduate soon, and though she’s never been to campus, she hopes to one day visit the city where she has earned her degree. “When we do go back to the U.S., that’s going to be our first destination…I absolutely plan to come and see Athens.”
Find out more about by visiting the online M.Ed. in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Creative Education program web page.
Yamada and her family at home in Brazil.