Merry Kirkpatrick learned how to balance family life and school while earning a degree in the early childhood unified program. She plans to continue working at WSU’s Childhood Development Center following graduation.
Kirkpatrick is one of more than 1,100 students eligible for fall 2021 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what is next for the grad.
What degree did you earn?
I am receiving a degree in education in early childhood unified.
What is your hometown?
My hometown is Wichita, Kansas.
What led you to Wichita State?
My mom was the first in her family to receive a college degree. She went to school late nights when we were babies so she could better our family, and she became an example for me. She drove me to want to go to WSU just like her.
How are you feeling leading up to graduation?
I feel excited and apprehensive. I love gaining knowledge and putting it in practice. I’m still having a hard time believing I’m finally done.
What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at Wichita State?
I have worked at the Wichita State Child Development Center while attaining my degree. I have been able to integrate all the things I have learned during my internship at my current position.
What has been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?
Being a full-time student, attaining a full-time job, and having three young children has been my biggest challenge to maintain. I found ways to manage my time and had to learn how to accept help when needed. I gained a small circle of people who helped support and encourage me through it all. Without this small circle, I couldn’t have made it through. I work with Wichita State students here at the CDC, and these teachers’ assistants have become some of my closest friends and a part of my family while I have been on this journey.
What are your plans after graduation?
I will continue my position at the Wichita State Child Development Center. I will take this degree and continue in the current position I am in as a teacher. Early Childhood Education is my passion, and I love working with my little ones and the students on campus who are teacher assistants in my classroom. I will continue to be an advocate for Early Childhood and be an active advocate for it in our community.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your time at Wichita State or your post-graduation plans?
I was already on a completely online degree through the Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP). During COVID, it became apparent that there was a shift in learning as we all learned how to tackle online learning on an even deeper scope. It’s definitely taught me how to persevere.
What advice would you give other Wichita State students?
Keep going. Keep pushing through your challenges. Don’t be afraid to go for exactly what you want to do. Sometimes this means changing a degree path halfway through or taking time your time to attain your degree. It’s OK. Not every person’s experiences are the same and yours won’t be the same as anyone else’s. Not every timeline will always align. Let God or whatever spiritual/personal guidance you use help lead you to the path you are meant to be on. You can make it through.