Monmouth Memories Oral History Interview
Date: December 6, 2017
Interviewee: Leslie Mader
Interviewer/Transcriber: Amy Mader, Monmouth University Student
Leslie Mader was a graduate student in Monmouth University’s social work program and later cane back to teach in that very same program as an adjunct professor. She grew up local to Monmouth University, only a few miles away in Fairhaven, New Jersey. Leslie describes her childhood there as safe, with a strong sense of community. She later went to Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she got her undergraduate degree in business. With this degree, she returned north and worked at an insurance company in New York as an accountant. She however, stopped working when her children were born. Once her children got older, she decided to go back to school to pursue a new career.
Originally, Leslie wanted to go back to school to become a teacher, but as she spent years in the classroom with her children she decided teaching was not the path for her. She decided on social work due to her desire to help people, and by attending Monmouth University’s open house. She knew that Monmouth was the school she wished to attend because of its nice facilities as well as its convenient location. Leslie’s experience at Monmouth was an extremely positive as they made it easy for her, and other older students, to settle back into the learning environment. So much so, that Leslie remembers that about half of the students in her classes were around her age. The school accommodated to her busy schedule as a mother by offering night classes as well as the ability to go these classes only one night a week. Professors accommodated by making themselves available, not only to talk about course material, but also to listen and offer advise regarding the stresses of going back to school as well as being flexible with due dates.
Leslie’s experience at Monmouth differed in every way to her undergrad experience at Lynchburg College. She was older and more mature, as well as more interested in the subject matter. Going back to school did present certain challenges however. Leslie describes how this experience was a huge step out of her comfort zone, especially when it came to writing papers again as well as present projects in front of her peers. Her family was challenged as well, for her children, it was difficult knowing that she would be less available than they were used to, especially when it time for her to start her field work and for her husband it meant taking on new responsibilities in the realm of parenting.
Despite this, Leslie graduated and began a career as a substance abuse counselor. She was invited to teach at Monmouth as an adjunct professor by a former supervisor of hers, Kelly Ward. Leslie accepted but described how this experience too was far outside her comfort zone. She describes her first day of class, sitting down and realizing her student expected her to teach them. She settled into her role however and began to enjoy her role as teacher. Her favorite experience she tells is watching her students grow in their confidence as well as knowledge. Her class was a practicum class, where her students would meet and discuss challenges as well as positive experiences they were having in their field placements. She did however have some difficulties too, namely a student who had to drop out of the program due to personal problems.
Leslie utilized her past experience as a student at Monmouth both while teaching and in her private practice. The most valuable experience she gained was being able to associate with her students and patients when they discuss stepping outside their comfort zones. Leslie ran her classroom very casually in order to foster conversation between her students, wherein they could process their feelings and foster growth. The most important lesson she hoped to instill in her students is that it is ok to not know everything and to ask for help.
Leslie is no longer working at Monmouth University as it conflicted with her main career in her private practices. Leslie’s private practice is in Fairhaven, the very town in which she grew up. There she specializes in substance abuse and recovery. She notes how the town has developed but the sense of community is still there. Currently, Leslie Mader’s daughter is attending Monmouth and Leslie is very proud that her daughter is able to share the same positive learning experience that she did.