A computer network consultant in the IT business, Kathy Lloyd '12 of Pittsfield, Mass., became a mother and realized that she needed a career shift. So, in her mid-30s, she decided to go back to school. She chose MCLA.
"My husband had just graduated from MCLA a few years before, and had a good experience," she explained. "I originally went back for computers and realized that I work really well with adolescents. I think that I can teach - until I retire - quite happily."
Fascinated with biology and the other sciences since she was a high school student herself, Lloyd decided to focus on that field. She plans to teach biology at the high school level.
"I feel like once kids get to high school, you can really begin to have intellectual conversations with them," Lloyd said. "You can really start exploring the world outside, and I really enjoy that conversation with people. With young people, I feel like too often they are discounted because of their age, but they have so much to offer. And, I love to be around the energy of adolescence. I look forward to being a part of that."
Lloyd enjoys learning at MCLA.
"The biology department has been such a treat. Every single professor there knows their stuff. They are engaging, good teachers and very approachable. I love my biology classes. I love being back in college. I love my new student friends who are all 15 years younger than I am. I just adore them and they really help me through my classes."
As part of her biology degree, four semesters of chemistry classes are required. At first, this seemed quite daunting for Lloyd, who once in high school had earned a 14 in chemistry.
"I had the pleasure of taking all four classes with Rob Harris. Dr. Harris took something that I imagined was going to be unapproachable and made is very approachable. It was a subject that I thought was going to kill me and I managed to very well with my grades," Lloyd said. "I got As and A minuses. He requires a lot from his students, but he gives as much as he requires."
Another class Lloyd particularly enjoyed was "Conservation Biology" with Dr. Emily Mooney.
In what became a favorite part of the course for Lloyd, the class learned about conservation biologists who worked to bolster North American Cougar populations. After doing DNA testing, the biologists discovered that cougars from Texas - previously thought to be different from those living in Florida - were the same species. The Texas cougars then were injected into the Florida population to rejuvenate that group of cougars.
"Then, we moved into the law and international issues," Lloyd said. "The western hemisphere, in general, has more money than the rest of the world, but the rest of the world contains most of the endangered species and their habitats. So, we have to be careful politically and choose laws to protect people as well and find that fine balance."
The class also participated in a nationwide project, gathering data to help conservation biologists cope with invasive species that encroach upon native plants in U.S. National Wildlife Refuges.
"This was wild. It was quite an eye-opener. Compiling data is often boring and frustrating. There's often poor data and using the formulas that we learned about in 'Conservation Biology' to compile real data was fascinating. It was an eye-opener. This was a real world experience," Lloyd said.
Once she completes her bachelor's degree, Lloyd plans to go right into the Master's of Education program at MCLA.