Karolyn Barclay, '14

Karolyn Barclay portraitGrowing up, Karolyn Barclay loved her teachers and knew someday she wanted to inspire and educate children in the same way.  As an adult, she began working in a preschool, where she realized her calling to provide young children with the same supportive learning environment she had as a child.

When the opportunity for her to return to school became available, Barclay turned to Kansas State University to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.  Upon her graduation in May, she was chosen to receive the 2014 Global Campus Extraordinary Student Award.

While working toward her degree, Barclay overcame several personal obstacles that she never let hinder her degree progress.  Her grandson was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness which resulted in various malformations and physical deformities.

“My grandson required 24-hour care, and my son needed my support and attention during this difficult time in his life,” Barclay said. “For several years, I worked during the day and studied at night.  I made many sacrifices to complete my education.”

Melissa Thomas, instructor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services, said Barclay continued to excel in her classes despite her personal obstacles.

“Even with many trials, she continued to turn in every assignment on time, and every assignment went well above and beyond what many other students complete,” Thomas said.

Now that her degree is complete, Barclay is ready to continue her career in the early childhood education field.  Upon the end of her student teaching semester, she was offered a position teaching early childhood special education in Ottawa, Kansas.

“I feel like this is my dream job and feel very blessed to get the opportunity to teach in this district immediately following graduation,” Barclay said. “I have also applied for the master’s program at K-State and plan to begin courses in the upcoming fall semester.  My goals include advocating for and supporting early childhood programs in my community, as well as at the state level regulating and maintaining quality early childhood programs across Kansas.”

Receiving the 2014 Global Campus Extraordinary Student Award was something Barclay said she never expected to happen to her.

“I was so focused on my education and doing my best at all times, it didn’t occur to me that anyone else had noticed,” Barclay said. “I am deeply honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this award.”