Everyone you meet has something to teach you.
That is the sentiment that Dr. Rachel Stickles ’95 said she will share when she takes the stage in true Pioneer spirit as the first-ever keynote speaker at the 2021 graduate-level Commencement ceremony at Carroll on May 7.
“My key message is that there is immense value in approaching every interaction with a mindset that you have something to learn. That was a message that was shared with me quite some time ago and it has shaped how I approach my conversations and interactions with others. Commencement marks the conferral of a degree, but each graduate has a lifetime of valuable learning ahead,” Stickles said.
This year marks the first time that Carroll will separate its historically dual ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students since at least 1992, when two graduate students commenced, according to the Registrar’s Office.
Dr. Mark Blegen, Carroll Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs, said the university decided to divide the ceremonies to better highlight the achievements of students within Carroll's growing graduate programs. Carroll now offers 11 graduate programs with degrees in health and movement sciences, education, business and psychology.
"Owing the remarkable achievement of earning a graduate degree at Carroll University, and wanting to honor each graduate’s journey, we felt it was the right time for these talented students to be recognized at their own Commencement ceremony," he said.
Stickles said of the newly separated Commencement ceremonies, “I think it is a sign that we are growing as a university and it provides an opportunity to shine a bigger spotlight on each group of students.”
Approximately 815 students will receive diplomas at Carroll University’s 2021 Commencement ceremonies, including 589 expected to earn bachelor’s degrees, 145 expected to earn master’s degrees, and 81 expected to earn doctor of physical therapy degrees.
Stickles graduated from Carroll with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She went on to receive her master’s degree in secondary education-curriculum and instruction from California State University, Long Beach, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California.
She has been a member of Carroll’s Education Department faculty since 2008, when she first co-facilitated a two-year Master of Teaching and Learning program with Dr. Mary Lee Danielson. Since that time, she has taught courses in both the Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Master of Arts (MAT) programs at Carroll.
Stickles noted that graduate students choose Carroll’s programs in education for a variety of reasons. Some seek K-12 licensure, others will be facilitators of learning for adults in a variety of professional settings, and some seek to be prepared to be more civically engaged in the life of their communities. With each goal, she said she enjoys “helping them prepare to be the educators they wish to be in whatever capacity they choose.”
She said she approaches her work with a strong desire to build a community of learners. It is through that work that the community responded when it was members of the Class of 2021 who nominated Stickles to give the keynote speech at their ceremony.
“I know that my students are more engaged in learning when they have an opportunity to build relationships with their peers and with me, as the facilitator,” she said. “I provide space for my students to share their experiences and explore our varied perspectives and that has helped me connect with them.”