While to some, a rigorous work load may sound daunting, to me, it meant an opportunity. As a graduate student at UNI, I got to be highly involved in coaching and teaching.
One of the best experiences I’ve had at UNI was coaching debate, under Dr. Cate Palczewski’s leadership. She taught me almost everything I know about coaching successfully and how to earn respect from students. Even as a graduate student, I was able to coach the team as if I were the only coach--she let me go to tournaments by myself, coach the teams, etc. It was a great experience.
Graduate school was great preparation for my current career in Forensics. Since I’ve graduated, I have worked as an instructor of communication and debate coach at three different institutions. I was at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. for three years as a Professor and the Assistant Director of Forensics. From there I went to St. Cloud State for a year, but was unfortunately laid off due to budget cuts. I am now teaching at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn. I also coach high school debate at Wayzata High School.
My graduate assistantship equipped me with the proper skills in classroom management. As a grad assistant, I was responsible for my own sections of Oral Communication. I learned so much through the process of trial and error, but meeting once a week with other grad assistants was always insightful. I truly believe that the knowledge and experience I gained at UNI gave me an edge over other candidates for the jobs I obtained.
Besides Cate, there were two other instructors that played an important role in my graduate success: Victoria DeFrancisco and Karen Mitchell. I always loved taking classes with them because I not only did I know that I would learn the material, but I knew they let their students decide for themselves what was important.
I also completed my bachelor’s degree at UNI. I spent a year at an engineering school, but realized I missed debate, so I transferred. Though I applied to several graduate schools, I decided to stay at UNI because of my incredible undergraduate experience. For me, I felt that I would be more prepared for the “real world” by staying at UNI rather than going elsewhere.
Two moments from UNI stick out in my memory. First, I loved the relationships I built with other grad students. When we finished our theses, we all celebrated--there was no better feeling! I realized that throughout my graduate experience, everyone wanted me to succeed. I also loved when UNI upset Kansas University in basketball in 2009. Even though as a graduate student I wasn’t as connected with the activities typically reserved for undergraduates, it was great to see the pride everyone had in UNI!