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kelly mccurry
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Kelly McCurry

Graduation year: 2015

Majors: Secondary education, mathematics

Minor: Art

Activities: Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Clogustana, Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble, Club Ed, Tuesday Reflection Committee

Post-grad plans: Teach high school math, algebra 2, pre-calculus and calculus at Putnam County High School in Grandville, Ill.

Why did you choose Augustana?

I was looking for a college that would fit me, and Augustana was that college. I was mainly looking at education programs, and Augustana, while being a nationally accredited education program, also allowed the flexibility so that I could still pursue art in college, even if it was not my major. I also fell in love with the community. By visiting college campuses with my older brother and sister, I knew that I wanted a small school, like Augustana, so that I could have interactions with professors who knew my name and genuinely were interested in me, along with opportunities that are not offered at bigger schools. I also wanted to find organizations in which I could belong to and have an impact on the college and the community.

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

Relative to my degree, I would say yes. I have achieved an education degree in high school mathematics and have a job after graduation. But I never could have imagined the opportunities I have had and the amount I have grown from them. I did an independent research project with Dr. Bengtson and presented my findings at Mathfest, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America. I planned a conference for Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity on campus, with an attendance of over 350 students and alumni from chapters across Illinois. I attended the national conference for Alpha Phi Omega and had the honor of taking part in the choir that sang our national toast song for over 2,000 people. And lastly, I traveled to Jamaica where I met amazing people and taught in the schools there.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

The biggest influence on campus was probably Dr. Egan. He has been there to support me and my decisions for the past four years while being my academic advisor, as well as my correspondent on campus prior to saying "yes" to Augie. He has supported me through some crazy ideas I have had, such as trying to double major in math education and art education. While I don't think it is possible, I sure tried to find a way for it to work, and Dr. Egan supported me. He also challenged me and pushed my boundaries through my experience in Jamaica and really challenged my beliefs. The education department and the mathematics department have both been there to help me grow into the educator and mathematician I am now and will continue to grow to be. My parents have also been a great support throughout college, not only helping to encourage my studies, but also helping me to realize that my future career is important.

A peak experience?

I have had many amazing experiences here at Augustana, and while I could talk about them all, I think my peak experience was traveling to Jamaica and experiencing their culture and having the opportunity to teach there. They are considered a third-world country, but by the attitudes of the people, even in hard times, you would think of them as a prosperous society. And in the words of Bob Marley: "Possessions make you rich? I don't have that kind of richness. My richness is life, forever." This outlook really made me think about my life choices, and still does today. The students in Jamaica were amazing and the difference in education systems was apparent, but I was able to analyze both theirs and our own for positive as well as negative things. It made me have a different approach to our school system in America. This experience was eye-opening and has changed my views on many things, including poverty.

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?

I learned the most about my ability to be a leader and to take initiative. I have had a variety of leadership positions on campus as well as my teaching experience. I never would have thought to be a person who could take initiative and help run a club or plan a conference. I feel that I have found my voice and my initiative through my experiences with APO, Club Ed and Clogustana. This is very important in my future career because not only am I in a leadership position in the classroom, but teachers also need to take the initiative to cause a change within their classroom, school or district. They need to be able to advocate for their own decisions as well as be leaders when developing curriculum and other changes as well, and Augustana has prepared me for this.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to spend two weeks in Jamaica.

What will you miss the most?

I am going to miss my close relationships with friends as well as my time with Clogustana. There are six seniors in Clogustana who have been clogging together for the past four years. We have grown really close and have our own inside jokes. I will miss dancing one night a week with the other girls and creating this art called clogging and sharing it with our classmates and community.

Advice for the Class of 2019?

Take advantage of the knowledge your professors have and get to know them. You might be amazed at where that relationship can get you, such as doing research with that professor. This is important even for classes that are not part of your major because it shows the professor you care about the class. It also helps if you get stuck with the content of the course. It is not as hard to visit them during office hours if you already know them. Use their office hours to your advantage; they want to see you succeed, not struggle.

“Kelly is a strong mathematician, a talented visual artist, a promising young teacher skilled at making abstract ideas accessible to adolescents, and a culturally sensitive individual who can collaborate and connect with people of diverse backgrounds. Each trait carries its own stereotype. For example, mathematicians are often assumed to be socially disconnected while artists are often assumed to be incapable of logical thought, etc. Kelly defies all these stereotypes, and hence she is precisely the kind of educated and accomplished human being that Augie strives to produce.”

 

- Dr. Mike Egan, associate professor, education

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