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Shawna Hughes '16

Pursuing a Master's Degree at Drake University


Going back to school isn’t an easy decision. Non-traditional students can have an entirely different Simpson experience, but Shawna Hughes ’16 found ways to make the most of hers.

Continuing her education at Simpson was a clear choice. Not only did she qualify for academic scholarships, but she could already call Indianola home, as she grew up in town. And as she started classes, she found more reasons to love Simpson College.

“The professors truly care about each student,” Shawna said.

Three professors in particular stood out for her: Patti Woodward-Young, Aryn Kruse and Jack Gittinger. Each influenced her future as a teacher in a different way.

“Patti Woodward-Young opened my eyes to struggles today’s students face,” she said. “She challenged me to see past my own biases and assumptions and reach the whole child.”

Jack Gittinger showed Shawna how to teach her students to think, not just learn, and how to do it creatively. But going into special education, Aryn Kruse’s insight was invaluable to Shawna.

“Her passion for special education is infectious,” she said. “She opened my eyes to ableism and the importance of people-first language.”

Because of these three professors, Shawna feels confident in herself as a teacher and as an advocate for her students, which she showcased while interviewing for jobs. Des Moines Public Schools saw this and offered her an eight-year contract that includes a paid-for Masters degree from Drake University.

The conclusion is clear, and Shawna said it best herself: “Simpson truly cares about your success.”