Master’s Degree Qualifies BVU Graduate as a ‘One-Percenter’

For those raised in the foster care system, only a small percentage go on to obtain an advanced degree. Krista Tedrow beat the odds in graduating with her master's in organizational leadership.

Krista (Miller) Tedrow ’19 M.A. ’20, who resided in the foster care system until she was nine, carries statistics from those formative years, motivators all.

Fifty percent of children who interacted with the foster care system graduate from high school.

  • Of that 50 percent, 20 percent start college. 
  • Of that 20 percent, five percent graduate with a four-year degree. 
  • Of that five percent, one percent pursue an advanced degree.

Krista Tedrow is a one-percenter. The Ottumwa native earned her bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University in June 2019. Her BVU master’s degree came 14 months later, in August. Along the way, Tedrow opened a consulting company. She co-founded a tech startup. She worked a full-time job and, with husband Aaron Tedrow, raised their daughter, Amelia, a 3-year-old.

“I graduated from BVU and took my consulting work with No Opportunity Wasted and launched into Pathway Possibilities, the tech startup that creates software to address disparities in the field of human services,” she says.

She laughs: “Once I graduated, I didn’t have BVU homework. The startup business gave me something to help occupy my time.”

Education remains central to all Tedrow touches. Education, she says, represents a tool to chisel one’s way from a cycle of poverty. That’s how it worked for Tedrow, after all, who shuttled from foster home to foster home the first decade of her life as her biological parents served prison sentences, a byproduct of their addictions.

“I will do everything I can to make a difference in our communities by directing resources, energy, and attention to the systems that work for young people in our disadvantaged populations.”

Krista Tedrow

Tedrow graduated from Ottumwa’s Calvary Baptist High School early, at age 16. She left her hometown, made some questionable decisions of her own, then returned to enroll at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. BVU was presented as an option after she earned her associate degree.

“Brianna (Arterburn) Porter ’09 M.A. ’16 was in the high school counselor’s program at BVU at the time, raising two children and working full-time,” Tedrow says of her Ottumwa friend, now a school counselor. “She directed me to BVU and encouraged me to go back to school.”

BVU professors, including Dr. Mary Gill, BVU Professor of Communications Studies and Program Director for Organizational Leadership, helped Tedrow overcome fears of taking classes while working full-time.

“I got a C in one of my first master’s classes,” Tedrow remembers. “Mary Gill reached out and helped walk me through the next course. She was always there for me.”

Tedrow, who celebrated her 30th birthday in July, has served in various roles at the Ottumwa Job Corps Center and is currently on a team consulting the National Office of Job Corps on Distance Learning. She’s executive director of the South Central Iowa Workforce Area local workforce development board.

Her mission involves getting people connected to the resources (education, skills, training) they need to enter the workforce and matching job seekers with available positions, working with agency partners who seek to keep individuals advancing as companies grow stronger in regions across Iowa.

“We are still impacted by cycles of poverty, but our key stakeholders keep working to address it,” she says. “I will do everything I can to make a difference in our communities by directing resources, energy, and attention to the systems that work for young people in our disadvantaged populations.”

It’s where Krista found herself many years ago.

“The key is to have someone fighting for you,” she concludes while gearing up for a keynote speech she’ll deliver for a conference serving foster care providers in Chicago. “You need an advocate. And at BVU, that’s what I had in everyone from Financial Aid personnel to the Registrar to my professors: advocates looking out for me, fighting for my future.”