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A Yearning for Learning; Seeta Rees ’09M

Seeta Rees '09M
Photo courtesy of Seeta Rees

Although a small woman in stature, Seeta Rees ’09M fills the room with her exuberance and broad, beautiful smile. Her tales from childhood paint a picture of a journey, one of learning,
growing and giving back.

One of six children, Rees grew up in Guyana, a small, English-speaking country on the eastern boarder of Venezuela. Her parents were hardworking and taught her to do the best she could. “My family didn’t have much, but my mother always found a way to get me enough money to take the bus to Venezuela, where they offered free courses in Spanish at the institute there,” Rees says. As she traveled to and from classes, Rees knew her perseverance would pay off, and it did – when she was hired to teach at that same institute.

Today, an English as a Second Language teacher at Reading Area Community College (RACC), a volunteer in Berks County, and a graduate of Albright’s master’s in education program, Rees thrives on being active in her profession and her community. “I didn’t want to come to the United States to just live here—I wanted to be able to help support the people around me,” she says. In 2005, after arriving in the U.S., Rees became a tutor with the Berks Literacy Council, which she still does today.

Rees moved to the United States after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Guyana. She started taking classes there after her husband of 23 years died suddenly of a heart attack. Heart broken by her husband’s death, but not about to wallow in the hardships of life, Rees enrolled at the university, where her sons were already students. “It wasn’t easy working and carrying a full load as a university student, but my sons were a wonderful help,” she says. Rees is proud of her sons, who she taught to become responsible young men.

Both graduates of the university, Rees’ sons remain in Guyana. “I believe you truly know that someone loves you when they help you to become independent,” Rees says. “That’s what their father and I did for them as they were growing up. Today, their life is my love for them.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in May 2005, Rees moved to Douglassville, Pa., to marry her current husband, David. Thinking she needed a GED to get a good-paying job in this country, Rees went to RACC to find out what she needed to do.

But a bachelor’s degree was more than enough to qualify for a part-time teaching position, which they had available at the time. “I was so excited! I just love teaching. I can have the worst day and be totally exhausted when I walk into the classroom, but by the end of the class, I am re-energized and feel great!”

Yet, working and volunteering wasn’t enough to keep Rees busy. So she enrolled in Albright’s master’s in education program. It was a time filled with excitement and uncertainty. Rees’ dark, happy eyes turn serious as she says, “I can’t take all the credit for gaining my master’s. Dr. (Sarel) Fuchs always made me feel like everything was going to be okay. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

The first in her family to earn a degree, let alone a master’s degree, Rees was filled with gratitude as she walked across the stage on graduation day.

“When I saw my mother, we both cried,” she says. “It has been such a long journey from the days when I rode that bus into Venezuela, but I felt the same love, pride and encouragement from my mother that day. Her eyes were filled with tears, but they were smiling and dancing, too.”

– Jessica L. Morris

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