Birthday Reflections and Finding Oneself

I’m always given to reflection during my birthday month, this year in particular as I am working towards yet another career during a time when most people are probably starting to think about retirement. My life has been one of incredible change. I grew up as an Air Force brat which meant living in three countries (if you count the U.S.) and four states, while attending 3 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools all before the age of 15. This moving trend continued with my fiancé-now-husband. We’ve lived in Colorado Springs, Boulder, back to Colorado Springs, Leavenworth, Denver, Steamboat Springs, back to Denver, Bend, and Las Vegas.

My list of jobs is similar. After graduating from college with a degree in Environmental Conservation I managed a Dunkin’ Donuts (go figure), worked at various banks, environmental testing companies, engineering companies, and spent time as a high school teacher. I have a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a BS in Civil Engineering from CU, Denver, (I actually started the degree at KU, Lawrence), a post-baccalaureate from Western Governors University which led to my teaching certificate, a MA in science education from WGU, and I am currently a doctoral student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I am specializing in educational technology and science education. And I am now exhausted after this trip down memory lane!

I’ve been fortunate to have family and friends who have been supportive of all these different endeavors although my sister did ask once “have you ever NOT attended school”? Looking back, I know it was boredom that drove me from one job to another, with the exception of the teaching position, but that is a post for another time. Prior to that once I learned my special little area that was pretty much it for any growth opportunity. Maybe the influence of my early years led to a need for change, for different perspectives, and ultimately created a desire for lifelong learning and finding the “new”.

Fortunately for me, what may look to an outside observer as a series of disjointed “careers” have all contributed to the skills which allow me to pursue what I believe will be a fulfilling career in academia. Anyone who has spent time in banking or engineering know these prepare you for mounds of paperwork and provide practice at dealing with government entities, enabling you to easily fill out those grant applications! Western Governors University helped me practice finding OER learning materials, as well as develop critical thinking skills in regards to those sources. This comes in handy when working on literature reviews. Most of all, teaching instilled a passion within to find the best methods possible to help teachers learn and teach, and to help students learn and to have control over their learning.

Given that we are dealing with human beings there will never be one best answer, and given the constantly changing landscape of technology there will never be one best method; growth as a researcher and instructor are guaranteed. It feels good to finally find a calling that my life choices have appeared to funnel me towards all along. It is good to know you don’t have to decide the answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” until well after you grow up! 

About Cynthia Clark

I hold a doctorate in curriculum & instruction, with an emphasis in educational technology and science education. I work for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as the Evaluation and Assessment Specialist for the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment. My current research interests include qualitative responses to course evaluations, both the development of open-ended items and their subsequent analysis.
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