Diana Estrada is passionate about higher education. So much so, that she has spent the last six years pursuing both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Denver. When she walks across the stage this time, she will be graduating with a masters in Higher Education and plans to use her degree to improve financial aid opportunities and reduce the likelihood of college debt for other students.
Kayanne Klipka, a 2017 graduate from the LIS program, is a featured student on DU’s special Commencement website. The following story, written by Jeremy Jones from DU’s Marketing and Communication Office, appears below.
As students across the country prepare for commencement, many will be faced with the important question of “now what?” Whether it’s continuing with their education, entertaining job offers or taking time to see the world, many are relying on a firm plan to guide their next steps.
For Kayanne Klipka, however, there is an excitement in not knowing exactly where the future will take her. Instead, she’ll let her own curiosity guide the way.
“My plans after graduation are to hold plans loosely,” says Klipka, who is earning her master’s in library information science (LIS) from the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. “I’ve got an insatiable sense of curiosity and a pretty adaptable attitude. Hopefully with [my degree], my laptop and connections made at DU, I’ll be off on some pretty interesting adventures.”
The only adventure Klipka has planned at this point is a summer trip to Medellin, Colombia, where she plans to learn Ruby (a computer programming language), salsa and Spanish. After that, your guess is as good as hers — and that’s the way she likes it.
Spending time to experience another culture is well-deserved for someone who has spent the last two years working hard to earn her master’s while at the same time proving her theory that “all librarians are actually mad scientists,” a humorous statement she takes somewhat seriously.
Klipka has learned a lot as a graduate student, and having basically lived out of Ruffatto Hall during that time, she jokingly admits that she now knows which microwave heats soup most effectively and what corners are best for squeezing in a quick power nap between work and class.
“But seriously, my tenure at DU has been unique,” says Klipka, who worked as a graduate research assistant at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy. “While most of my library school colleagues are graduating with a couple years of traditional library experience —which no doubt will serve them incredibly well in their careers — I’ve been practicing research data management on a true academic research team. I really think it has expanded my thinking about research and where else my library school skills can be applied.”
At Marsico, Klipka worked on a project referred to as LT Studies, or “learning trajectories.” Over the course of two years, she and other DU students spent time in preschool classrooms conducting math instruction with small groups of children using two different methods: traditional and learning trajectories — a more conscientious and tailored approach based on a child’s development, Klipka says.
In addition to her studies, the people Klipka has met, worked with and learned from have made her DU experience a memorable one.
“There have been so many people helping me through these last two years. I have felt wholeheartedly supported by my advisor Mary Stansbury, Professor Krystyna Matusiak and Kate Crowe, curator of special collections and archives,” Klipka says. “These women have helped me find my research interests, encouraged me to build collections around student activism and racial and ethnic minority students, and write and present research at conferences.”
Klipka also praised Stansbury for her receptiveness to the feedback she provided about the LIS program.
“I urged the LIS faculty to center more curriculum around serving diverse populations and recognizing our own biases. In response, Dr. Stansbury fought for funding to integrate the Intercultural Development Inventory into part of LIS student requirements,” Klipka says, adding that the integration enables students to recognize their own perspectives while becoming more interculturally competent.
With just a few days remaining until commencement, Klipka is preparing for her summer and is looking forward to seeing where her curiosity takes her. For those preparing to enter graduate school, Klipka encourages them to explore all the possibilities.
“Grad school is exactly what you make of it,” she says. “If you know what you want to do when you’re coming into a grad program, work like crazy at it but always leave yourself open to new opportunities.”