Kathy Kyler isn’t satisfied simply trotting through life.
With a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish and an M.S. in Clinical Psychology, this ambitious woman has worked in research and research administration for more than a decade. Even with all her education and experience, she realized she needed formal training in how to effectively manage these diverse groups. In her own words, “I am great at getting things done and paying attention to all the tiny details, but not so good at delegating or knowing how to train and empower people.” But where could she find the time? For a working adult with a very full calendar like Kathy, our Masters of Arts in Administrative Leadership degree fit perfectly into her life. With the program’s 100% online classes, her time management hurtles of balancing work, play and another degree became much more manageable.
After working as a grants and contracts administrator for the University of Vermont (UVM), Kathy spent the past three years at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, first working in General and Community Pediatrics and recently transferring to the Office of Research Administration. Her new job keeps her busy tracking lots of details- what she calls the “all moving parts” of large scale projects and their planning- and providing guidance to investigators involved in grant research. Kathy is very detail oriented and likes knowing how everything works, but she said what she enjoys most is the sense of working toward the greater good and helping others.
A Love of Horseback Riding
As if all that isn’t enough, there’s even more to this busy woman’s story! Kathy and her husband moved to Oklahoma about three years ago, and both share a love of horseback riding. Though her husband is a newcomer to the sport, she started riding at the age of 4. As a teenager, Kathy spent much of her time riding and showing saddle seat and western seat on the A level (the highest and most prestigious level of equestrian competition). While she stopped competing during college, she ended on a high note, being named the reserve world champion in the American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) Stock Seat Gold Medal finals.
Finally after a long hiatus, she’s back doing what she loves and has even purchased her own horse named Farrah.
“Farrah has taught me a lot about trust and the importance of having confidence as a rider – I bought her as a prospect, she is still young, and so I have to keep my cool for her sake as well as my own!” she said.
They attended their first show together earlier in the month and even qualified for Morgan Grand National in Amateur and Ladies Hunter Pleasure, winning the Ladies Hunter Pleasure Mares class.
“I did not expect that! It was a thrilling return back to competition!”
She said they will probably do two or three shows this spring to see if they are ready to tackle their first Grand National in the fall.
A true equestrian enthusiast, it’s hard for Kathy to choose what she loves most about the sport.
“I love how it really requires you to let go of whatever else is going on in your life and just ride what is in front of you at any given moment,” she said. “The physical exercise – as well as the horses’ antics – Farrah would just about tap dance for a peppermint treat – is great stress relief.”
She also said she loves the experience of working as a team and the opportunity to learn the empathy and importance of communication as well as the personal gains of overcoming obstacles to progress as a rider.
“The sense of personal accomplishment and achieving my goals each time we have a breakthrough – this has nothing to do with the competition aspect of the sport and everything to do with learning and growing as a rider. The first time we got a good canter transition in practice, the first time we did a pattern in group, the first simple lead change – these are all memories I will treasure!”
Freedom to Learn
Even with all this going on, she decided to go back to get a second master’s degree and our online CLS graduate degrees made it possible. Kathy said she was a little skeptical at first because she’d always had traditional classroom experiences, but the flexibility of the online format is what allows her to balance work, family and her involvement in equestrian competitions.
“I have the freedom to go to a competition and post my assignments to D2L using a laptop, rather than having to be a certain place at a certain time to turn in a hard copy. I can also maintain normal daytime working hours without having to leave to go to class and either use up vacation or lose family time.”
“I can say with certainty the rigor of the program and the dedication of the professors is no different: my experience with CLS has been wonderful so far, and I look forward to what is yet to come!” Kathy said.
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.