Erica McGuire is succeeding in the classroom and on the home front. As a full-time, single mom to 8-year-old Keaton Rae, she admits it can be tough focusing on both studying and parenting. When the pandemic shut down her daughter’s school last year, McGuire says she found it especially challenging.
“Homeschooling her and going full time online myself was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done,” said McGuire, an online criminal justice major. “We just took it day by day — and, yes, there were tears.”
Pre-pandemic, McGuire, an Honors College student, took most of her classes on Perimeter College’s Dunwoody Campus and says she is grateful all of her courses shifted online due to early COVID-19 restrictions. She finished the fall semester with a 4.0 grade point average. She stays motivated by her goal, which is to work in criminal justice in areas involving accountability courts and treatment programs.
Prior to enrolling at Perimeter two years ago, McGuire spent eight years managing a tanning salon where she made “good money.” But the work hours were long and took too much time away from her daughter.
“It just was no longer a life that I wanted,” she said. “I wanted to make a bigger impact on people and have more time with my daughter. I missed a lot of ‘firsts,’ and I didn’t want to miss any more.”
McGuire’s interest in criminal justice grew from a desire to positively impact people’s lives. On campus at Perimeter, McGuire enjoyed service-learning projects such as one that took her to a nearby retirement home where she assisted elderly residents with crafting jewelry.
“We’re supposed to lead by a service heart; it was the perfect opportunity,” she said.
In 2020, online learning gave McGuire the flexibility to move farther away from the Dunwoody Campus to be nearer to her boyfriend — one of her biggest supporters. She will graduate this fall from Perimeter with her associate degree in criminal justice, joining her mom and two sisters who graduated from Georgia State. McGuire says she plans to transition into Georgia State’s bachelor's in criminal justice program in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.
Story by Kysa Anderson Daniels
Video by William Davis
Photo by Carolyn Richardson