After graduating from Carroll College with a B.A. in English, Dr. Kilgust entered the workforce in the field of health care administration, where she stayed for 10 years while returning to graduate school at night. She began teaching at Milwaukee Area Technical College. While there, she taught at a variety of other schools, including Marian University, Cardinal Stritch University and Carroll University. She now has the good fortune to make Carroll her one and only teaching home.
Areas of Specialization
American Literature, 19th C American Women’s Regionalist Writers, African-American Women Writers, Fairy Tales
What is your teaching style?
My goal for students in my classroom is that they will they think more carefully, fully, and with greater awareness of complexity. Students who study literature and writing should improve the clarity and depth of their thinking and their written expression. My teaching style tends to involve careful reading, class discussion, and writing assignments. Rather than cover a large volume of reading pages, for example, I assign readings of a manageable size yet challenging nature so that we have time in the classroom to discuss the details of what they read, making sure the students move to an understanding of the text’s meaning as opposed to a surface reading of the words on the page.
My teaching also frequently emphasizes that writing and reading should not be done in a vacuum, but as part of a larger conversation with other voices. Writing assignments in my classes are often in direct response to reading the works of others, thereby exercising both reading and writing skills in one assignment. Students are expected to understand the views of others and to connect with them-not necessarily agree with them, but to connect with what the author is saying, and to respond.
One more goal I have for the classroom is for students to read, research, and come to conclusions about some of the complexities they have been or will be confronted with. Learning information is important and necessary, but perhaps more important is for students to learn what to do with that information. How do they reconcile contradictory information? How do they deal with material that conflicts with their values? How do they integrate dissonant information and not just disregard it? I ask students to come to terms with disparate thought and information, primarily through writing about it.
Why do you do what you do?
I love to learn. I love to follow the threads of one idea leading to the next, to the next, and the next. I love the discovery of connections that new knowledge and awareness lead me to. This love of learning gives me at least two strong reasons to love teaching. First is that I get to learn more. Researching and preparing a class for a new semester, I get to learn new and more in-depth information and insights. In addition, the students teach me new perspectives and new information. They connect me to different cultures, including the ever-shifting perspective of youth from traditional-aged students. The second reason I love teaching is that I get to help others do what I love to do, which is learn. For those students who do not love to learn, I try to show them the rewards of education, what it can add to their lives. I believe that two reasons for human existence are to learn, and to connect. Teaching allows me to do both, and to share that with others.
How do you make learning engaging?
I work to make learning engaging by trying to choose material that students find interesting. I frequently ask what they think and what their experiences are. I don’t know what it is like to grow up in the early 21st century, so I like to hear their perspectives. Once they realize that I want to learn from them and that their experiences have relevance in the classroom, they become more open to engaging with the material presented. I try not to monopolize the classroom, but open it to all their voices.
What should students know about you?
First and foremost, I am a Carroll alum. I, too, walked these hallowed halls as an undergraduate, and lived to tell the tale. I am a life-long Wisconsin resident, originally from Green Bay (Go, Packers!). And don’t be afraid to talk to me; I will not bite.