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Talia Diamond was a senior in a high school for students with learning disabilities when a teacher there told her, “I give up on you. I don’t want to try anymore.”

Coping with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette Syndrome since her elementary school years, Diamond found it difficult to organize her time and didn’t know how to prepare for classes, she says.

But Diamond’s parents didn’t give up on her. After she graduated from that specialized high school, they sent her to Beacon College, where Diamond majored in human services and minored in education and psychology.

“I didn’t know how to study,” she recalls. “The first semester I was there I took a strategies class. They taught me my best way to learn, my best way to study. I never would have known any of that stuff without that strategies class. It was unbelievably helpful to me. Every semester I was on the dean’s list.”

Although she originally wanted to study communications, with thoughts of a career in radio, psychology and child development classes at Beacon fascinated Diamond and turned her toward teaching. And she had the perfect role model.

“My mom taught for over 20 years,” Diamond says. “I always enjoyed seeing how kids loved her.”

Today, Diamond is teaching preschoolers in a private school, and looks forward to going to work every day. “I love to make kids smile,” she says. “They’re learning every single day, and just seeing them learn and grow is such a pleasure to me.”

After graduating from Beacon in 2009, Diamond returned to her home state of New Jersey, where she was hired to teach at a daycare center. Realizing that she enjoyed teaching the youngest children, she pursued early childhood and special education teaching certificates at Bloomfield College.

In pursuit of her credentials, Diamond did student teaching for a semester and, after receiving her certifications, taught at special education schools.

“I enjoy working with special education kids because I know what they go through,” Diamond says. “Some of the other teachers get frustrated more easily. I have more patience because I understand things. I’m able to be more accommodating to them.”

She credits Beacon for much of her success.

“Beacon helped me learn to do things on my own,” Diamond says. “Because of Beacon, I was able to go to Bloomfield College, which is a regular private school, and I didn’t apply for any special education things. I did it all on my own.”

Recently married and living now in Illinois, Diamond is in the midst of transferring her New Jersey teaching credentials to Illinois.

“My ultimate goal is to teach kindergarten,” she says. “That’s the age where kids are coming into school for the first time, everything is new to them. They’re learning the basic skills of reading, writing and numbers. At that age, you’re the one giving them the foundation of learning. That’s what I enjoy being the one to give them the foundation of learning.”