Spring 2021 U of I Coeur d'Alene Graduates
Just take the first step. It’s what each of these Vandals did years ago, and it’s the resounding advice they echo now as their degree chapter comes to a close. They sought help along the way and didn’t let anything, including the myriad challenges of the past year, get in the way of achieving this dream. Their stories capture fortitude, determination, perseverance and gratitude. Through their own words below, get to know the exemplary 2021 graduates from University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene.
Spring 2021 Graduates
- Psychology B.S.
In my own recovery from mental health struggles, I became inspired to help others in our community who could benefit from mental health support. My career in long-term care facilities taught me a great deal about empathy, patience and the importance of effective communication. This work experience introduced me to the helping professions and helped me realize my calling in life. I chose U of I Coeur d’Alene because it offered me the chance to pursue my career while still being able to take care of my family. Many individuals at U of I shaped my Vandal journey. Although my classes were online. my professors were always accessible and would always get back to me in a timely fashion whenever I had a question or was struggling with something. I have been working on achieving a college degree on and off for twenty years. So often our own self-doubt gets in the way of pursuing our goals. If you believe in yourself and work hard there are endless possibilities, and there are many resources to support your educational journey such as tutoring and financial assistance.
- Educational Leadership, M.Ed.
Hometown: Canastota, New York
This has been the best experience. The knowledge and real-life applications I have obtained through this program are priceless. I was able to complete my program online which was helpful with a full-time teaching career. The professors make you feel as though you are part of a learning community, even when everything is online. I will continue on with U of I to obtain my Special Education Director certification.
- English - Literature, B.A.
- English - Professional Writing, B.A.
As a nontraditional student, U of I Coeur d’Alene was the best option for me to get the degree I knew I'd need to enter the publishing world without uprooting my family. The friends I've made in Coeur d’Alene have helped me navigate and aspire to more in my classes. Virtual opportunities led to my involvement in the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, and their annual publication, Vandalism. Don't be afraid of asking your teachers for help, recommendations or just advice. They are your most valuable resource, and if you have a good relationship with them, these connections may serve you as you move forward. I have been accepted to the Denver Publishing Institute and plan to work toward entering the industry at the end of the summer.
- Environmental Science, M.S.
I volunteer in the spring and summer teaching veterans how to tie flies and fly fish. After a tying session, my wife and I were discussing how discouraging it was that so many veterans, including a lot of the Marines I had served with, were not pursuing an education with their GI Bill Benefits. I graduated from U of I in 2011 and my education has led to a career and life I love. We decided to check how much of my own GI Bill was left. I had just enough to complete my master's. U of I Coeur d'Alene was an obvious choice for me. I enjoyed earning my bachelor's here and the online curriculum allows me to raise a family and work while earning a degree. After graduation, I’ll continue working as the Environmental Manager at the Galena Mine. I plan on staying there as long as they'll have me.
- Curriculum & Instruction – Career & Technical Education, M.Ed.
Perspective from a 65-year-old graduate student? There’s great potential. I choose to refire, not retire. It didn’t occur to me right away how much people learn and grow as they age. That message really transformed my view of aging. I wasn’t trained to look for strengths but found over time that those strengths are the things that get people through difficult times, whether psychological, spiritual or emotional. They also allow people not only to overcome challenges but to thrive. Aging, in spite of the inevitable challenges, has its rewards. Those rewards not only balance things out, but most individuals experience a greater degree of well-being and a deeper sense of meaning than they do when they are younger. There is a fountain of youth; it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
- Organizational Sciences, B.S.
Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
I waited 30 years, put my child through college then finally decided to finish my degree. I’m thankful for this path because my experience and wisdom has allowed me to learn more than I ever could have at 22. Richard Reardon has been my advisor. He constantly challenged my thinking and helped me connect my experience with the subject matter. My message to others going back after an extended break is to use your experience, embrace Grammarly as your best friend and just do it!
- Organizational Sciences, B.S.
I could not have made it to where I am without the help of my advisor, Richard Reardon, and the many other helpful staff members at the university. The CDAR [Center for Disability Access and Resources] office was a great resource. One of the major pluses for me is the many ways you can take classes — online, in person and hybrid. Being from a rural area, the online feature was excellent. My advice to future students is just start! It doesn't matter if it takes you 10 or 20 years while taking one class at a time. You deserve it! Put yourself first and advance not only your career but the way you learn, the way you see the world, and your overall knowledge base. I promise that you can do it!
- General Studies, B.G.S.
I am a first-generation college student, and I haven't had any financial help from family. I've worked 25 plus hour weeks since retiring from football. I failed a few classes, but I never let that get in the way of the bigger picture of graduating. Professor Helen Brown inspired me to get into community health just by sharing her experiences and stories. She's been to so many different places and done a lot to help people in need, and I would absolutely love to do this. I've made some great friends from all walks of life who have opened up to me and shared some of the realities you might not experience while growing up in small town Idaho. My college experience has given me courage to get outside of my comfort zone. I have secured a job in Maine for the summer as a camp counselor. I would like to continue in social work and community health, preferably in the nonprofit sector.
- Food & Nutrition – Dietetics, B.S.F.C.S.
Hometown: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
I have always been interested in learning more about nutrition, food and health which is what I have been studying in the past two years with the U of I Coordinated Program in Dietetics. I lived in Moscow for the majority of the time, but I moved to Coeur d’Alene this year to complete my internship at Kootenai Health. I cannot believe how gorgeous this city is. Even if I was not able to go to classes in person, I have loved visiting the Harbor Center and spending some time there. I look forward to graduating and seeing what the future holds for me. As always, be brave and be a Vandal!
Dianna Kathleen Kuykendall
- Child, Family and Consumer Studies - Child Development and Family Relations, B.S.F.C.S.
You are never too old to start college. You will be so glad you took that first step, and there will always be a rainbow waiting for you at the end. I want to share my most favorite teacher and advisor with you. Sara Matthews helped make this graduation day possible. Without prejudice or question, she advised me and set me on the right path to success. Her methods of delivery are unlike any other professor I have ever had. She makes you think, she is kind, she listens to you if you have a concern, she is helpful and fun, and I just love her to pieces. She is one in a million. She has definitely shaped my journey to success. I am looking forward to my career path as a Family Consultant in the Head Start community. Children need the chance for success as they enter grade school, and hopefully I will play a part in that as well as in the lives of their parents and caregivers.
- Secondary Education, B.S.Ed.
My best advice for anyone wanting to become a teacher is to savor everything U of I can offer you. During your teacher education classes, actively participate. There are so many wonderful professors to learn from in the program. Make sure you are listening to all of their advice, experience and important course material. It will help you so much when you become a student teacher and professional educator! Another important piece of advice would be to invest in relationships with your classmates. They are your lifeline during your classes, when you go to student teaching, and friends you are going to have throughout your life! Additionally, savor the moments of student teaching because it will go by too fast. It can be really hard at times, but part of the experience is making mistakes so you can become a great teacher. Lastly, fake confidence still counts! Even if you don’t always know what you’re doing, acting like you do can carry you a long way. The kids won’t know and eventually neither will you.
Going into education is such an important path and you should be really proud of yourself for pursuing such a noble profession.
Julie Uistienne Poynsenby
- Education, Ph.D.
Hometown: Budleigh Salterton, Devon UK
I left a secure job, my home, friends, family and country to come to Idaho and start this Ph.D. journey. I left a 16-year career to take a step back from being immersed “in” education as a teacher to delve more into the philosophy of education. I have made lifelong friends and acquaintances and am grateful to the International Programs Office for their continued support and advice. Dr. Anne Kern recruited me and has guided me through this whole program! Dr. Fritz Fiedler encouraged me to recognize that my skills and attributes make me, a non-scientist, a useful and valued addition to a science-driven research team. Dr. Philip Stevens introduced me to Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous artists and writers, opening my mind to seek and understand knowledge on paths I had been ignorant of before. Having the opportunity to work with students from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has been an incredible experience. I cannot begin to express how much I have learned from the students, and I am grateful for being able to reflect through the lens of decolonization. This is only the beginning! In the short-term, I will continue working for the Tribe in the Department of Education working on the National Science Foundation-funded Voices to Hear project. After that, who knows? I do not have immediate plans and relish the freedom I feel making that statement! I feel as though this is only the beginning of many more journeys and adventures to come. Once a Vandal, always a Vandal!
Sarah Renee Puryear
- Sociology - Criminology, B.S.
Hometown: Sandpoint, Idaho
My sorority Tri Delta made a huge impact on my education. I found the best support system within this foundation. My family has also pushed me to follow my dreams and be the best version of myself. Advice to future students would be do not be afraid to change your major once entering college. Find something that you are passionate about. Also, don’t be scared to reach out for help from faculty because they want you to succeed.
- English - Professional Writing, B.A.
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
A high school advisor once told me that, according to my self-described interests and strengths, I might like copyediting. Something about that just stayed with me. My husband and I met in Seattle, and when I decided to go back to school full time, we knew it would be much more affordable in his hometown of Coeur d'Alene. All my classes have been either videoconferencing or online. I was unsure if I would like videoconferencing, but it's honestly just like being in the regular classroom. Jodie Nicotra has really helped me as an instructor and advisor. I have had a great time being a Vandal. There's an amazing sense of accomplishment you get from completing each semester. After graduation, I’m planning to move back to the Puget Sound area and get into technical writing and editing.
- Computer Science, B.S.C.S.
Hometown: Hayden, Idaho
My major changed several times in the first couple of years, but I eventually decided computer science was the path I wanted to take. I’ve always enjoyed math and working with computers, and this offered a great mix of the two. Additionally, tech related jobs are in high demand and will likely continue to be in the future. My journey began at the main campus, but after a few years in Moscow, I decided to return to Coeur d’Alene so I could live at home and finish my degree. Class sizes in Coeur d’Alene were significantly smaller, which was nice. I met some amazing mentors, professors and colleagues at U of I, in both Moscow and Coeur d’Alene, and have truly enjoyed my experiences at both. Currently my goals are set on moving to Seattle and finding a software development position.
Reaine Garrett Wilson
- Organizational Sciences, B.S.
Hometown: Bushnell, Illinois
Being a Vandal for me means breathing new life. I transferred to University of Idaho after moving from western Illinois. It felt as if it were a second chance. Professor Richard Reardon impacted my life in a big way at U of I. He took time to help me with my schedule, see where I needed to be, and find the best way to graduate on time. The best advice I could give someone following in my footsteps is to talk to faculty, advisors or anyone to get the help you need to pass. Just talking to your professors goes a long way, and for me that translated over to the workplace and talking to my employers and communicating with them. My plans are to move up in my company with this degree and continue with my wife in bettering and growing our family.