After several years working in the restaurant industry, Abigail Long (TYL ’12) knew that wasn’t the future she wanted. Her true passions were design and working with the land, which meant a return to the classroom to pursue a degree in landscape architecture.
“I had a general sense of what I wanted to do (and what I didn’t want to do) but I didn’t quite know how to get there,” said Long, 30, a transfer student who returned to the classroom in 2015. “My [academic] advisor at Temple helped me to take a few classes to get my feet wet a little bit and eventually helped me choose my major. It was seeing projects that the current students were working on that made me realize what a worthwhile and interesting career path it could be,” she said.
Those first steps back into the classroom, however, were not without a hefty dose of trepidation, said Long, who had previously majored in education at another institution.
“From the beginning, making the decision to go back to school, that was a huge transformation. I was definitely nervous; it had been a few years since I was in a classroom setting,” she said. “Temple really helped me cultivate a community of people, which was really nice to grow into and grow with. Just utilizing my skills and building upon that every year, has really set me up in a good place.”
Long said she “drastically changed” industries when shew made the decision to come back to school, “but I feel confident in the choices I've made.”
“Just like any other facet of life, it’s been challenging,” she said. “Temple — the professors, the faculty, the staff — have done a tremendous job to provide the best academic experience.”
Long’s Temple experience, she said, “was one of growth, challenge and a lot of perseverance.”
“From the person I was when I first started to the person I am now, there has been drastic change and transformation, which I think is really good,” she said. “Going back to school, doing a lot of the work that I’ve done, it’s given me the confidence for whatever comes next.”
Long recently received one of the top honors that a landscape architecture student can achieve. She was named the undergraduate 2021 National Olmsted Scholar. As the undergraduate scholar in this highly competitive program, she received a $15,000 prize.
For others who might be intimidated by the process of returning to school full-time, Long suggests taking a few classes “to see what’s right for you.”
“Make an informed decision about what you want from your degree. Find out as much as you can about the potential career that you want to get into,” she said. “Don’t be intimidated about getting back into a classroom. You’ll find your way and there are people to help you. It will happen; before you know it, you’re finishing your degree!”