Beenish “Bee” Durrani has always wanted to earn a degree from an American college, but life kept getting in the way.
From Pakistan, she already had a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in marketing when she emigrated to the U.S. Durrani, who also teaches Zumba and Bollywood dance classes, grew up the daughter of educators, and has operated a state-licensed daycare for 17 years.
She started studying for an associate degree in early childhood education during the spring 2021 semester.
The single mother of two teenage daughters, Durrani has been asked why she is going to college when she already owns a successful business.
“It’s more of a personal thing,” she said. “I wanted a degree from the U.S. I just want to cross that stage and throw my cap up. The older I grew, the more I felt that little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, ‘I want to graduate from college.’ But, it was never the right time for me to take that step.”
Then, the coronavirus pandemic happened, and Durrani realized “life is never going to stop for me.” While she was nervous about going back to school, Laurel Ridge staff were so helpful.
“I called every single department when I started,” Durrani laughed. “They were so wonderful in helping me. They were so sweet. They would call me back and say, ‘Come into Zoom right now and we’ll help you.’ I really enjoyed that feeling of being so connected to everybody.”
Durrani, who lives in Loudoun County, has found online classes have worked well for her since she is busy “running a full-time business and taking care of my daughters. They have not gone to school for a full year.”
Her daycare has half the number of students now due to covid, so it was fortunate that Durrani was able to use REV (Re-Employing Virginians) funding for the first semester.
After she graduates from Laurel Ridge, Durrani is considering transferring to James Madison University’s early childhood program. She thinks she might like to teach kindergarten.
Her daughters are proud of her for going back to school, but decided to have a chat with her when she started.
“They sat me down and said, ‘The same expectations that you had for us on grades, you have to follow, too,’” Durrani said.
Her preschool students are also proud of Durrani.
“They’re very excited that Miss Bee actually has homework now,” she said. “Whatever I learned the day before, I actually say, ‘That’s really interesting. I’m going to try that with my 2-year-olds tomorrow.’”
Learn more about REV funding at laurelridge.edu/REV
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.