From teaching preschoolers to teaching prisoners

Raegan Liguori-Reid in a graduation gown and cap

Two decades ago, Raegan Liguori-Reid toured NAU. It was the only university the 17-year-old visited—the only one she wanted to attend.

“However, life takes you in different directions sometimes”—for Liguori-Reid, it was teaching preschool, having a family and moving into a career in corrections.

But being a Lumberjack remained in her life plan, and a couple of years ago, a friend told Liguori-Reid about NAU’s 90/30 public administration program. The 90/30 program allows students to earn 90 lower-division credits at a community college and then earn 30 upper-division credits at NAU to earn a bachelor’s degree. Liguori-Reid enrolled in Estrella Mountain Community College. Now she’s preparing to graduate in True Blue and gold with a degree in public administration.

“I am truly grateful for the amazing opportunity to be a part of the NAU Lumberjack alumni,” she said. “Coming from a single-parent household, I watched my mom struggle to raise me and yet she completed her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. She made it look so easy, and it wasn’t until I started my own educational journey that I found out that it was anything but easy for her. I vowed that no matter how long it took me, I would complete my degree and make her and my daughters proud.”

Raegan Liguori-ReidWhen she was a junior in high school, Liguori-Reid started taking college classes. But, as she said, life went in a different direction. In 2003, she started teaching preschool. After a decade of it, though, she was feeling worn down and felt her passion for teaching slipping away. Without that sense of purpose, she started looking at other options and found the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. She started working as a correctional officer in 2013.

In 2018, Liguori-Reid was promoted to a case manager position, which facilitates classes with the inmate population. A year later, she began facilitating an anger management class. She wasn’t sure about it and the inmates didn’t respond well, but she kept going. In the next few weeks, however, the inmates found a greater purpose from the course, and she found the passion for teaching she’d lost years ago.

She also found a love of administration in this process and decided it was time to get that degree she’d started so many years ago. The online program offered the flexibility Liguori-Reid needed to balance work, school and her family of seven. The coursework offered a greater perspective on public administration and leadership, which would help her improve in her job and advance, including getting a master’s degree from NAU.

“I think the best part of my time with NAU was feeling like I was a part of the NAU community even though I was online,” she said. “Being a student is challenging for anyone, let alone anyone with a job or kids or other responsibilities, and I found myself struggling with my full-time coursework, four kids, my marriage and my full-time job, but with the support of the professors, coworkers, friends and family, I was able to complete my degree.”

Kurt Fenske, a senior lecturer in publication administration, has taught Liguori-Reid in two classes. He was impressed with her from the start.

“The thing that stood out most about Raegan Liguori-Reid was that she always was the first student to post in the discussions,” he said. “Despite having a full-time job and a family, Raegan always was the student who took the lead in sharing ideas in the discussions with her classmates.”

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Heidi Toth | NAU Communications
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NAU Communications