Katy Tetrick’s background isn’t in engineering – it’s mathematics. Find out how Voiland College’s STARS director is using her love for math to help students in need find success at Washington State University.
What do you teach at WSU?
I teach two courses for the Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) program where I help first-year engineering and computer science students dive into the practical details of what it takes to be successful and engage with foundational mathematics concepts in an engineering context.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I enjoy the light in the eyes of students who understand a concept after putting in the time and effort required to master it. I enjoy seeing students engage with the course material and become curious about it. I enjoy watching the happiness of students who take an additional step to create or learn something extra.
I care about my students a lot. I want to each one to become successful in the field they have chosen. The most rewarding part of my job is empowering students to be successful. I like to think that students leave my office with the knowledge needed to bring about their own success. Typical conversations with my students are like problem-solving sessions. A student will come in with a concern; we discuss it and find possible solutions. Then we decide on the best course of action.
Why should someone choose to go to school at WSU?
WSU has incredible school spirit. We are a family here. We take care of our own. If someone is looking for instant connections, beautiful scenery, and opportunities beyond their wildest dreams, then Washington State University is the place for them.
Tell us about STARS.
STARS provides a support structure for first-year engineering and computer science students through individualized mentoring, high-touch advising, mathematics and chemistry tutoring, scholarships, and intro-level engineering courses. We accept a limited number of applicants at the beginning of each school year, so students have a built-in community from day one at WSU.
STARS also organizes webinars with companies like Boeing, field trips with companies like Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and activities to let off some steam like Cosmic Bowling and glow-in-the-dark ultimate Frisbee.
WSU STARS students at Cosmic Bowling.
How did you get into teaching students?
When I was an undergrad, I started leading recitations for calculus courses. I spent hours every week preparing mini-lectures full of examples to reinforce what the students were learning in their calculus course. The students appreciated it, and I slowly realized that teaching at the college level was what I wanted to with my life.
Once, a group of thankful students gave me a bouquet of flowers after they passed. I remember thinking, ‘this is why I do this.’
What advice would you give to students to excel in college?
My first piece of advice is to ask for help. Student resources abound at WSU. There is sanctuary and understanding for any situation in which a student might find themselves. Second, continue to practice time management. Third, embrace feeling uncomfortable. If you are wrestling with material you have never seen before, then you are learning!
What hobbies or interests do you have outside of teaching?
Music is a large part of my life. While I do not play any instruments (yet), I enjoy taking a road trip to attend a concert. Some of my favorite artists to see live are Twenty One Pilots, Ellie Goulding, Cage the Elephant, Portugal. The Man, and Joseph. I am also a DIY enthusiast, a very amateur painter, and lately instant photographer. I enjoy a good creative challenge.