Canadian Educator Continues Lifelong Learning

A winding road led Isabel Hay, Fraser Valley, British Columbia, to Kansas State University.  With her 25th high school reunion approaching, she looks back on her academic past.

“I have done a few very different things in terms of education since high school,” said Hay.  “I graduated from Vancouver Community College with a hairdressing certificate in 1987 and worked on movie sets, live theatre productions and in salons.”

Three years later, Hay returned to school at Langara College and completed a certificate in early childhood education.

“I taught pre-school and worked with special needs children for a number of years.  While working at a campus daycare, I went back to school again.”

Hay, who was working full time and raising a young family, attended school part time and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from University of the Fraser Valley in adult education in 2006, where she currently works.

“I am the first one in my large Portuguese family to get a bachelor’s degree.  As an immigrant family, this was a big deal for all of us,” said Hay.

Hay’s career moved from childcare to other areas of university including the English as a second language department; admissions, registration and assessment offices; and the disability resource centre, where she remains today, working as an advisor for students with disabilities.

As soon as Hay completed her undergraduate degree, she began to search for more educational opportunities that would fit her career as well as her busy schedule.

“I became aware of the academic advising certificate through some colleagues,” said Hay.  “As soon as finances allowed I applied to the program with the intention of ‘let’s see if I can do this at a higher level.”

Hay was put in touch with Rosemary Boggs, program coordinator at K-State’s Division of Continuing Education.

“She answered my questions and was so attentive in her emails to me that I thought this has to be the right place for me,” said Hay.  “I chose K-State for the online option, as all the choices I had close to home would not work well with my home life.”

Most importantly, Hay said, she chose K-State because of the way faculty and staff treated her.

“Rosemary Boggs has been terrific, and the IT staff is so helpful and quick to respond to any issues,” said Hay.  “My first professor, Doris Wright-Carroll, was so friendly.  She even called me to chat about my course work question– I have never had that before!  We had a wonderful talk on the phone, and I felt as though I knew her.”

As time and financial resources permitted, Hay made progress in the academic advising certificate.  She reconnected with Boggs, who told her about K-State’s new online option for a master’s degree in adult and continuing education.

“This online master’s degree lets students complete a curriculum in two areas– the core courses come from the adult and continuing education area, and the electives can come from any of the online graduate certificates we offer, including an academic advising certificate,” said Boggs.  “So a student has two content areas when they have completed the master’s degree.”

Hay will complete the certificate program this summer, and will start her master’s courses in the fall.  She hopes to graduate in 2012.

“Personal connections are a big part of what we learn in our coursework, and my K-State faculty are practicing what they teach,” said Hay.  “I can’t wait to attend graduation and meet the folks who have been so helpful in person.”

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