Madisen Pacioni's elementary and high school years were, in a word, tough. Not only did she have the typical struggles of many kids, but she found herself helping to care for two ailing parents.

When she was 8, her father, Ernie, found out he had multiple sclerosis; three years later, her mother, Teri, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"These were extremely hard times for our family," recalls Pacioni. "I had to learn to grow up and become independent quickly to adjust to all the changes happening."

To cope, she turned to books, especially coming-of-age young adult novels. "There is nothing more comforting than leaving your life and entering a new world filled with fresh eyes and new perspectives," explains the California State University, Mon​terey Bay graduate student in education.

"With every novel I read, I always find myself becoming attached to one character, whether it's due to the character mirroring myself or hav​ing strong qualities that I admire." Escaping into worlds like The Hunger Games' Panem and, later, Pride and Prejudice's Pemberley estate, would lead to a fascination with and respect not only for books but education.

Now, the 23-year-old aspires to nurture that same love of reading and learning in high school students as a newly-minted English teacher.

"I want to, through education, help my own students escape any of the problems that they may be going through, just as I once did," she explains. "I want to expose them to literature that could transform their lives."

 

A Faster Track to Her Own Classroom

After graduating from CSU Monterey Bay in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in human communications with an emphasis in English subject matter, Pacioni enrolled in the university's College of Ed​ucation's first cohort of its MA + Credential Program, which allows students to simultaneously earn their master's degree and teaching credential.

Shortly after getting her credential in May 2017, Pacioni landed a job at Seaside High School, where she'll start teaching in August. She expects to graduate with her master's degree in 2018.

"I'm the type of student who likes to get things done in one sweep; I'm very headstrong in my academics," reflects the Antioch, California, native. "It is very beneficial to me to get through school as quickly and efficiently as possible so I can graduate and start my career."

Now, with one year remaining, Pacioni has become a vocal advocate for the program's many benefits. "If you are focused and dedicated and this is the profession that you want, I would highly recommend it," she says.

"I received so much faculty support through this program, which in turn gave me so much confidence. I feel very prepared and ready to start my new position."

 

​CSUMB: 'The Perfect Fit for Me'

A career in education wasn't always obvious, however.

Both of Pacioni's parents went to a large campus, going on to work in finance. While she was tempted to follow in their footsteps, she ultimately decided that a small campus and an intimate learning environment were what she'd need to thrive.

After some research, Pacioni chose CSU Monter​ey Bay, with its student body of just over 7,000, even though she'd never visited the campus.

"It just seemed like the perfect fit for me," she recalls.

Six years later, she still feels the same way. "To be in a class of 30 students where your name is heard and your voice is heard is an incredible asset," she says. "People get to know you and you get to know your peers; your professors know your name."

In specific, Pacioni names Erin Ramirez, Ph.D., assistant professor and program coordinator of secondary teacher education at CSUMB, as her mentor.

"I always knew that if I ever needed advice or help, I would get a response fro​​​​m Dr. Ramirez immediately," she explains. "I never felt like I was going through the program alone, which was very important and special to me."

 


MADISEN PACIONI'S ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS

The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Lock and Key

By Sarah Dessen

Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

Unwind

By Neal Shusterman

 

A Place Where Every Student Belongs

Pacioni's spirit and determination are drawn in part from her parents' persistence and strength throughout their health battles. While her mother has been in remission for 12 years, her dad continues to fight MS.

The excitement and anticipation this teacher-to-be feels about stepping foot into her very own classroom are palpable.

At CSU Monterey Bay, "I learned that you will have very good days, but you will also have very bad days… [Then] you'll just have this one moment that makes you say, 'This is why I did it, this is why I chose this job.'"

And what does Pacioni think her first year as a teacher will hold? "I'll use education as a tool not only to shape [my students'] minds, but to show them that they have options," she says.

"I wanted to go into teaching because I have a passion for literature and writing and I want to share that passion with students," she continues. "I am very passionate about my students having this feeling of belonging in my classroom."

"I want my students to know that education is more than just academics; Education is powerful and transformative."

 

Learn more about how students are earning a comb​ined bachelor's or master's degree in education and their teaching credential at the CSU.