Gustavus Adolphus College alumna Kaitie O’Bryan ’10 has been named a 2012 Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Fellow, a highly competitive and prestigious award that will provide her with $175,000 in funding and considerable professional development opportunities over the course of the next five years.
The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) was established by Janet H. and C. Harry Knowles in 1999 to increase the number of high quality high school science and mathematics teachers and ultimately, improve math and science education in the United States. The KSTF Teaching Fellowship, the Foundation’s signature program, awards exceptional young men and women with a five-year, $175,000 early-career fellowship, empowering them to become master teachers and leaders in education. O’Bryan was one of 34 individuals selected for the fellowship this year, and one of 13 individuals selected in the area of mathematics.
“While KSTF does provide substantial tuition support, what excites me the most about the benefits of his fellowship is the access to professional development and the community of like-minded fellows who see teaching as a profession that deserves just as much respect as being a doctor or a lawyer,” O’Bryan said.
Since graduating from Gustavus with degrees in mathematics and studio art, O’Bryan has had a number of valuable and varied experiences in the professional world. She taught English in Hong Kong with Summerbridge, a non-profit organization that provides tuition-free English education to underprivileged students. Upon returning to the states from Hong Kong, she was an INROADS intern at UnitedHealthcare as a graphic designer where she designed, proof-read, and created copy for healthcare communications. After her internship she worked as a business analyst for Target Headquarters where she ran the inventory side of the hand and body lotion and sunscreen businesses. With her first two years after college behind her, O’Bryan has come to the conclusion that her true calling lies in the field of math education. This summer she is going back to school at the University of Minnesota in their master of education/initial licensure program.
“Chris Johnson in the Gustavus Center for Vocational Reflection (now the Center for Servant Leadership) first introduced me to the idea of vocation being where the heart’s greatest desire and the world’s greatest need meet, in his January courseChanging the World,” O’Bryan said. “It took me awhile to understand that my vocation lies in math education, but after considering that statement for awhile, it seemed so obvious that math education was right for me.”
O’Bryan describes Gustavus as a place that helped her define who she was and who she wanted to be.
“Gustavus provides students with so many opportunities on campus. I was able to explore a little bit of everything and take on big projects both in the Writing Center on campus and as a Study Buddies Coordinator off campus,” she said. “Gustavus encouraged me to make meaningful changes on campus and in the St. Peter community and I hope to continue to make meaningful changes as a math educator. Gustavus enables students to follow their passion, and the faculty, staff, and fellow students are great resources to help you define and develop your passion.”
Kaitie also noted the impact the math department and her math advisor had saying, “my math advisor Carolyn Dobler as well as the rest of the math department encouraged me and other students to ask questions in class or during office hours to further our understanding and discover the connections between mathematical concepts.”
After completing the master’s program at the University of Minnesota, O’Bryan – a Waukesha, Wis., native – plans to stay in the Midwest and teach in a diverse high school that serves a recent immigrant population.
For more information about the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, go online to kstf.org.