Mary Jane Kloster, a third-grade teacher at Anderson Elementary in the Bondurant-Farrar School District, was one of six UIU graduates to address the Class of 2013 commencement ceremonies at Upper Iowa University May 11.
FAYETTE, Iowa (May 13, 2013) – Third-grade teacher Mary Jane Kloster had the opportunity to teach lessons to a group of older students Saturday, May 11, when she was one of six graduates selected to speak to the Class of 2013 during Upper Iowa University commencement. Kloster completed her elementary education degree, with endorsements in reading and language arts, through the UIU-Des Moines Center in December.
Noting that the UIU degree denotes each graduate as a professional, Kloster said, "With this degree we have an obligation to autograph our work with excellence. Being a professional is more than dressing the correct way or showing up. It is doing a job with excellence each day for no other reason than that your name will be on the work produced. UIU has instilled the desire in me to want success in my own students and expect excellence from them as well."
Kloster also credits her UIU experience with teaching her to be a lifelong learner. She urged UIU graduates to "live each day continuously learning," saying "I have learned that education is not an answer or a path, but instead a way we live."
For Kloster, completing her college degree has been 20 years in the making. Although she always "assumed" she would go to college, she didn't take the step into higher education after high school but went straight to work.
"I spent 20 years in the work force. For 20 years I worked hard; not smart, but hard. I trained others to do a job I was qualified to do, but not qualified for the promotion," Kloster recalled. "I wanted an education, but I felt I missed the boat. I felt education was for those born with more resources or more intelligence. I felt it was for other people, though in my deepest dreams, it was something I wanted more than I could admit."
Along the way, Kloster completed two years of community college and was working as an associate at Anderson Elementary School in the Bondurant-Farrar School District.
It was my sixth year as an associate that Mrs. DeeAnn Johnson, a third-grade teacher, asked why I did not complete my teaching degree," Kloster said. "Isn't it funny, in my 30s, a third-grade teacher could still deliver a life lesson? By March of that school year, I had enrolled in education classes."
DeeAnn Johnson would never know the impact she had. Johnson died in December 2012, and Kloster was hired two weeks after she finished her last UIU class to teach in Johnson's third-grade classroom at Anderson Elementary.
"I never in a million years could have guessed the path that I was being led down, but I have no doubt that I have been learning for 20 years how to do the job for which I was hired," Kloster told her UIU classmates.
Upper Iowa University has 19 U.S. off-campus education centers, a traditional residential campus in Fayette, international centers in Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as an extensive online program and an independent study program. About 2,000 students who completed their associate, bachelor or master degrees through these UIU offerings graduated in the UIU ceremonies. Of those, 700 graduated from the Fayette location, more than 1,000 completed their degree at a U.S. center, 500 graduated through online or independent study programs, and 250 were from the international centers. UIU is one of the most diverse universities in Iowa. In all, the graduates represented 36 states and 14 nations.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to some 6,200 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.