KU student employee earns Bachelor of Psychology, hopes to continue her career in higher education

Rising up at KUEC: In this Q&A series, outstanding 2022 KU graduates share how the KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance, or change their career. Meet Krista Grace.

Krista Grace

Krista Grace, KU Edwards Transfer Ambassador and Welcome Desk staff member, graduated from KU this May with a Bachelor of General Studies in Psychology. Though she comes from a family of Jayhawks – both her mother and oldest brother hold degrees from KU – she didn’t know if she would follow in their footsteps.

“My path to Edwards was long and difficult. It took me over 10 years and a lot of failures to get here. There were many times when I felt like I had simply missed all my chances to fulfill that lifelong dream of graduating from college. But right away, KU Edwards was a place of hope and healing for me.”

Find out more about Grace and what she learned at KU.

What is a typical day in your life like?

I have always valued hard work, so most days you can find me doing just that. I work two (and a half) jobs in addition to school, so you are most likely to find me greeting students at the Welcome Desk or mixing up your favorite drink at the Texas Roadhouse bar. I love to unwind with a good true crime podcast and a long walk around my neighborhood, or cooking my and my boyfriend’s favorite dinners. 

What makes you the happiest?

I love spending quality time with my friends and family, whether it’s sharing a meal together, cracking each other up with our stories, or just sitting out on the back patio sipping coffee and talking about our day. The moments and occasions where I find myself surrounded with the ones I love are what really fill me up and keep me pushing forward.

What motivates you?

I am so passionate about service to others and have seen that manifest in so many of my roles, both professionally and academically. I love to work with people and hope that others feel more empowered, capable, and confident than they were when we met. I hope to find a role in an organization that shares that passion.

Why did you choose KU and the Edwards Campus?

I like to think that Edwards chose me. I honestly was not aware that it was right under my nose, but life kept pushing me into its path and I am so grateful it did. It was quickly clear that Edwards had a focus on student success. I felt like I was getting a big city education in a small-town environment which helped to put me at ease and really gave me room to explore and grow while I was here. 

How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?

From the moment I met my Success Coach, Ben Herron, I knew Edwards was the right place for me. He helped to calm most of my academic anxieties and equipped me with the tools and resources I needed to make my transfer as seamless as possible right from the start. From then on, I knew Edwards was a place where I could build relationships that made me stronger, both professionally and academically. I have gained invaluable experience that, for me, only validates how right the Edwards campus has been for me.


How has your degree prepared you for the future?

I chose to study psychology because I wanted to better understand what motivates people’s behavior. I have come to better understand the individual and social forces that shape behavior and can more readily recognize the barriers to success that people face. I hope I can use this to act as a problem solver and resource for others throughout my lifetime.

What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?

I think the most difficult part of earning my degree was feeling like I deserved it. My academic past is storied and my path to Edwards was long and difficult. It took me over 10 years and a lot of failures to get here. There were many times when I felt like I had simply missed all my chances to fulfill that lifelong dream of graduating from college. But right away, KU Edwards was a place of hope and healing for me. I found myself surrounded by non-traditional students just like me and a whole team of advisors, and staff, and faculty rooting me on. The growth I’ve experienced and the relationships I’ve built here have given that long and difficult path here a purpose. Now it’s my turn to take that story and share it with other students who may be in the place I was two years ago. I hope my story helps to give someone else’s the same purpose and value mine has come to hold.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

It is absolutely graduating from KU Edwards. If I thought that college was hard back when I finished high school in 2011, I could never have imagined how difficult going back to school in the middle of a global pandemic while working two jobs was going to be. But it has been the most rewarding and life changing challenge I’ve ever taken on.   

What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?

My favorite memories all surround my experience as a student worker. I got to immerse myself in all the facets of student success that Edwards has to offer all while working with an incredible team of fellow students. I think my absolute favorite memory was getting to be a student presenter at Transfer Student Orientation. That chance to share my story and to see the impact it could make really solidified that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. 

What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

Ironically, I’ve gone from someone who believed she could never find a place in higher ed to one who hopes to make it her career. I want to take my experience and give back to future students in any way that I can. More than anything, I’d love to give back to the campus that had given me so much in such a short amount of time.

What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?

DO IT! I know it can feel so daunting, and it does take a tremendous amount of hard work, but if you really want it - go for it. Don’t let that voice in your head tell you it’s too late or too hard, and don’t get so hung up on the small details you quit before you even start. Lean on your advisors, lean on your teachers and peers, and don’t forget to celebrate your victories – big or small – along the way!

Learn more about KU’s Bachelor of General Studies in Psychology.

Learn more about the Psychology program

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