CETL Podcast - Episode 3: Katie Groves

Tony Pellegrini: Here we go! Good morning! Tony Pellegrini here. I just wanted to reach out, connect with listeners across campus and throughout Southern Utah who are interested in teaching and learning at Southern Utah University. We have created this particular podcast series to celebrate how we teach and how we learn here at SUU. Weekly we address faculty members, students, alumni to ask them what are some of the cool ways that they teach, some wonderful ways that they engage in learning, and how they improve their teaching and learning while they're on campus. Our first participant, a person we’re going to converse with today and reflect with is Katie Groves. I've known Katie for the last two or three years here at SUU, first as a student. Unfortunately, I did not get to have her in class, but she was a student worker here in the College of Education, and I've just been impressed with Katie's enthusiasm and love of learning—you can see that in her in all that she does. And so I just wanted to reach out to her. We've got Katie here this morning and she's an alumni, she's graduated from SUU, and what I start with Katie, and just ask her, I wanted to go into some detail with her about how she learns, what she does to be so enthusiastic about learning. But Katie, let's start with just a little bit of background information from your perspective. Can you take a couple of moments and introduce yourself to our listeners?

Katie Groves: Sounds great. My name is Katie Groves. I am from Cedar City, Utah. I’ve been here my whole life but I love it. I graduated from the local Cedar High School in 2012 before attending SUU, which is my hometown school of course. I graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science in History and an Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. I did this because these two fields were something passionate about and something I wanted to go into. However, instead, I was offered a position in the College of Education at SUU as a budget manager and because I loved this place so much I couldn't say goodbye. And so I was the budget manager for a year and then recently I just got a promotion to college business manager. It's a great place to be. I love to read, I love to write, I am hoping to be an author one day. I'm a forever learner and an avid traveler, and I think that sums up me pretty well.

Tony Pellegrini: Wonderful! Katie, a lot of what you shared I want to jump into a little bit deeper if you don't mind.

Katie Groves: Okay!

Tony Pellegrini: “Love to read.” Where did that start? How did that start, and how does that benefit you how has that helped you as a learner both at SUU and Cedar High and throughout your life?

Katie Groves: I was gonna say, I've been reading since kindergarten. My mom got me into it when I was little and ever since then I've always had a book in my hand. I used to spend my summers going through the library and I check out 20 books for a week or two, and then go back and get 20 more. And I've always found that reading—even something like fiction, it doesn't have to be real life—it always can teach you something about life and that's the most important thing in my life. And to me, I was gonna say, I did Honors English and AP English in high school because I loved to see what books could teach me. And that taught me how to deconstruct them and get the deeper meaning and the theme. And it definitely helped me in college, and how it teaches you how to write, which is one of those invaluable skills you'll always need. And so, reading’s always been there.

Tony Pellegrini: Cool. Talk to me about that balance that you see in your life between reading and writing. How does that help you in learning to be able to enjoy those 20 books—I can just see that! I can picture you walking home from the library with 20 books, but talk to me about that, or us about that balance between reading and writing. How does that help you engage and expand your learning?

Katie Groves: That's a good question, I've never thought about it that way. Well, I was gonna say, the first thing that pops in my mind is in high school we were charged to read this book called Autodidactic. And it was actually written by a local Utahan and was endorsed by the president of SUU at the time Michael Benson. But it's about this guy who served an LDS mission but he had to learn a language and he could not pick it up. So he started writing down every day a word he didn't know; and so he'd go and he'd research it and he'd look it up and then he'd be able to integrate it later into his conversations. And just by doing that every day, he learned this entire language just by picking up a single word a day. And so he challenged us to start learning each word so anytime we didn’t know a word to take a second, stop, look it up, make sure we understood it, and then continue on. And so I think that was really helpful. And then in writing this balance it taught you how to integrate these words into writing as well. I don't know how to go beyond that!

Tony Pellegrini: That’s okay! No, I love that! I love that! Another point that you'd mentioned a couple moments ago, a very strong word that I love is passionate. You're passionate about legal studies, about history; how did you discover that passion of history, of legal studies? How can our learners—that's a human emotion, we're human beings, we have emotions, passion is one of those—how can we, how can our learners like you follow your example and discover that passion in their lives?

Katie Groves: Well for me it was, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. So when I got into college I said, “Okay, I'm just gonna take several different classes in different fields and see what stands out to me.” And I took an ancient Greece class from a professor that just really resonated with me; and so he just stuck with me and made me passionate and made me think about history and how to apply it to our day. And I loved that! And the same was with the law; I took one class, the professor just inspired me to look into it further, and so I just continued on that path. And it's just, you start learning about life and experiences and how to apply both past to now, and how you can—law was huge about how you can change your life and impact the society around you, and so I loved that.

Tony Pellegrini: Cool, very, very cool! You know, again we talked a little bit about emotions, and as I said before, we're all humans we all have emotions; how do you step out of your—in your learning, how do you step out of that comfort zone, just a little bit! Not too far that you get concerned, but how do you step out of that comfort zone? I don't know that history or legal studies may have been, may have been topics that were really within that comfort zone. Maybe you had to experiment and go into those a little bit, but how do you discover useful information by getting out of that comfort zone just a little; not so much the it scares you, but just enough that you can say, “Hey, I'm learning!” Does that kind of make sense?

Katie Groves: Yeah, and I'm trying to think how to answer it.

Tony Pellegrini: Okay!

Katie Groves: It's always hard stepping out of your comfort zone. My high school actually really prepared me for this was, they taught you how to kind of just go beyond what you already know and do it. And for me the big thing that taught me to go out of my comfort zone was: I was my high school salutatorian, so I was required to speak in front of a thousand people at my graduation—which I am NOT a speaker—and so that was terrifying to me! So it got the first step, and I had to get up there, and so I think it prepared me for when I went to college that, in order to get those truly valuable life experiences, sometimes you have to take that first step. And soon as you take your first step out of the comfort zone, your comfort zone expands a little bit more and so then it's not outside your comfort zone. Like my history class: it was an upper division class and I was a freshman, but I was like, “Oh, I'm gonna take that! I'm gonna see if I can learn something new from that.” And once I stepped out of that boundary it was a lot easier just to continue on and keep taking it. And so, and, does that answer your question?

Tony Pellegrini: That is a won—that gives some wonderful guidance to those who'll be listening to be comfortable in taking some risks, some calculated risks. You know, “hey, I'm a freshman, and I can take that upper division class! I can give that a try.” What great enthusiasm! Katie, any last—first of all, thank you so much for being willing to share; I've learned from you over these last few minutes, and it's been a pleasure for me to be able to see kind of what's passed in you as prologue to your future. Any last words of wisdom for your peers or freshmen through seniors at SUU to be able to be successful as I think you're successful?

Katie Groves: I have two pieces of advice: one, travel, travel, travel! Take advantage of any opportunity you can to get into the world, because that experience will change your life and will open your horizons. And two, I always think of this when I'm learning, and be a forever learner, but Socrates said, “For I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” So always keep learning! Because you do know a lot, but you can always learn more.

Tony Pellegrini: Wonderful, Katie! Thank you so much for your advice, for your perspectives, for your enthusiasm and attitude. You're a great asset here to the College and to SUU. For those of you who are listening, we'd like to invite you to listen to future podcasts. We're going to be again addressing teaching and learning with teachers and students and alumni here at SUU. Thank you very much everyone! Make it a good day, and we'll see you soon around campus. Thank you very much, bye-bye now.


The Center for Teaching Innovation