Regardless of what metric one wishes to utilize, the level of postsecondary educational success in the state of Indiana leaves little room for boasting. The Hoosier State can hang its hat on a number of things: high school basketball, Midwestern values, and agriculture. However, obtaining a college diploma has been a Sisyphean task for many Indiana residents relative to other states.
Marquette aims to buck that trend. College acceptance is no longer the goal. It's the expectation. College success now represents the target. And in order to instill in its students lofty expectations, Marquette demands the same of its faculty.
Amanda Boyd and Quentin Wadle affirmed that commitment this past semester by adding a few initials after their names.
Boyd will receive a Masters in Secondary Education through IU-Northwest on May 9th. Wadle will accept a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) of Mathematics through Indiana University one day later.
Both had to exercise an extraordinary amount of time management in order to hear Pomp and Circumstance one more time.
Boyd, a mother of two children (Addison, 11; Hunter, 9), and head of student government at Marquette was able to complete it in one year with much of the work occurring after hours.
"I tried to fit things in after the kids go to bed and on the weekends. I'm bittersweet about it being over because I love learning," Boyd said.
Through her coursework, she gained a better understanding of Indiana history, teaching philosophies, and reflection.
"I plan to make learning more relevant and to develop critical thinking and basic life skills for my students moving forward. I want my students to pick their academic journey and by doing so, they'll be more academically engaged," she remarked.
One area of focus Boyd, who achieved her B.S. in Political Science from Cal State Fullerton, plans to zero in on is place-based education. Guest speakers and field trips allow students to experience real-world learning.
For Wadle, the ability to juggle home and work commitments was even more strenuous. He's a father of ten children in addition to his role as a theology teacher and Quiz Bowl sponsor.
"It was shorter nights of sleep than usual. Some of the older kids pitched in whether it was cooking or cleaning," Wadle recalled.
Wadle, who owns both a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Secondary Education from Loras College, exercised a great deal of introspection during his own academic journey.
"A number of times, I found myself thinking, 'this is what it is like to struggle in an academic setting'," he said. Wadle cited his most rigorous course as topology, a subject which a Marquette public relations director had to confirm was neither the study of land surfaces nor the art of creating hand-crafted cocktails, but a combination of algebra and geometry.
He did, however, find great use of teaching ESL (English as a Second Language), an elective he chose based on Marquette's international student population.
"Some of the strategies I learned in my ESL class benefits all learners. For instance, when I show videos in class, I found a marked improvement in attention span and performance when I included subtitles in the learners' native language," Wadle said.
As he continues his role as educator, Wadle desires to see the big picture.
"I'll place less emphasis on having homework correct to score full credit. I'm looking more for effort and the thought process, and hoping and expecting my students tackle questions that are more challenging."
In three weeks, Boyd and Wadle will become the 16th and 17th members of Marquette's 19-person faculty to secure a Masters degree. It doesn't take an advanced degree to figure out how that wisdom will translate to the student body.