Special Education Teacher Leverages Jump Start on BVU Master’s Degree

Minnesota native Kathryn Tyykila was recognized nationally for service efforts while attending BVU for her undergraduate degree. She gears up for her first year of teaching while embarking on the journey toward a master's degree.

As Kathryn “Kit” Tyykila begins her teaching career, she’ll continue her time as a Buena Vista University graduate student.

Tyykila began as an undergraduate in BVU’s Special Education Plus One program, which allows students to complete coursework towards a master’s degree while yet an undergraduate student. The intent is to complete a master’s degree in special education within one additional year of study.

BVU offers this unique program in Teaching English as a Second Language and Organizational Leadership as well.

Tyykila earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with endorsements in pre-school/kindergarten and reading in May. By the time she graduated, she’d already been hired as a preschool special education teacher at Johnson Elementary School in Spencer.

“Being in a work-study position with a Title I Reading teacher gave me a good idea of what I wanted to get into as a career.”

Kathryn Tyykila

“I’m very excited about starting my career,” she says. “I’m also up for the challenge of taking graduate classes while teaching at the same time.”

Time management is a strength for the native of Canby, Minn., who worked 40 hours per week as a senior while taking a full load of classes. She ended her senior year by student-teaching at Alta Elementary School.

Tyykila began reporting to work as a work-study student at Storm Lake Elementary School as a BVU freshman. The work, which enabled her to earn spending money, also gave her clear insight early in her collegiate career that this was the right vocation.

“I worked at Storm Lake Elementary School as a freshman, then worked as a sophomore at Storm Lake’s Early Childhood Center,” she says. “Being in a work-study position with a Title I Reading teacher gave me a good idea of what I wanted to get into as a career.”

Kathryn Tyykila, class of 2020

Tyykila served others outside the classroom, too. As a BVU junior, she was named a Newman Fellow, a prestigious national award recognizing multiple service endeavors. Tyykila, served as vice president in BVU Student Move’s (Mobilizing Outreach & Volunteer Efforts) AWOL program, which stands for Alternative Week of Offsite Learning. AWOL members participate in a spring break experience that features work activity in an underserved area.

As a freshman, Tyykila spent spring break with the AWOL group serving children on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation in South Dakota. As a sophomore, she served as a site leader of an AWOL effort that saw students painting houses, establishing honey-raising projects, planting coffee trees, and working with children in Nicaragua.

Tyykila was also a member of BVU’s Orientation Team for new students, and BARC, the Beaver Animal Rescue Crew.

Tyykila says she’ll miss the constant activity of being at BVU. She’ll also miss the many friends she made—and the people she served—as a volunteer in and around Storm Lake.

“I’ll miss the community,” she says while adding a memory about her gorgeous lakeside home the past four years. “I’ll miss the view, too!”