Finding Solutions to Complex Problems - The Story of Kate Elder, '12
2/4/13 12:40 PM
By Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior Life News Staff--
The moment Kate Elder received her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree this past July, it marked the culmination of an improbable journey for the Cobleskill, New York teacher. She is, after all, a civil engineer by trade – someone who looked towards Silicon Valley after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The birth of a child however often leads one to reassess priorities, and after less than ideal restructuring at her company, Kate decided to change directions and embark down a path that provided more opportunity to spend time with her growing family. She took a teaching certification course and landed a job and quickly discovered the joy of working with children. She landed assignments in San Francisco and Oregon before heading back to New York.
Since New York State requires a Master’s to teach, she searched for programs flexible enough to work around her home and work schedule. She took classes at Boston University and then Patten University She even applied for a program at SUNY Albany, but by the time the application process had culminated, the program no longer met New York’s stringent professional certification requirements.
She eventually discovered Excelsior, and enrolled after learning 15 of her graduate credits would transfer.
She took her first class in 2007 – and was quite surprised at its rigor. Unlike traditional classes, class discussion never truly ended – there was always an opportunity to engage her fellow classmates or the instructor. She would put her children to bed and spend the night writing a paper. She would spend vacations on the beach with her laptop. Her husband was there to take on child care duties when she spent a summer holed up in the basement writing her thesis.
During this time she remained committed to her community with active involvement in several local causes. She is also a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of women educators from around the world, where she was recently elected vice president of her local chapter.
But does she miss engineering? “I do,” says Kate. “But I made the right decision. I get to spend time with my family and I love what I do, listening to my students and watching how their minds operate as they attempt to work their way through puzzles.”
Finding solutions to complex problems? Now that’s something Kate can relate too.