Natalie Schelling ’12 enjoyed a successful Earlham career and has parlayed that experience into a pursuit of a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from Ball State University. Here, the Shaker Heights, Ohio native shares some of the experiences, and some of the people, that made her education valuable.
EC. You had a unique experience in relation to your Earlham coursework and the way it led you to graduate studies in education. Can you share the process that you went through?
N. At one point, I was considering leaving Earlham to attend a school that provided teaching licensure. With the help of professors Tim McLarnan (mathematics), Jay Roberts (education) and Nate Eastman (English), I designed my own major in Integrated Mathematics Education. Tim later recommended me as a tutor for the “Math for Liberal Arts” course and Calculus through the Academic Enrichment Center. About the same time, a couple on campus asked me to tutor their foster son. These experiences helped me discern my path after graduation. Specifically, I became interested in the widespread curricular issues that leave high school students unprepared to tackle college-level mathematics.
EC. How did you decide to pursue the Educational Psychology graduate program?
N. My independent degree led me very close to a minor in psychology, so I took a number of psychology courses late in my college career. Having a background in math, I was attracted to the use of statistics in the field. Earlham psychology professors Vince Punzo and Maggie Thomas were strong supporters of my decision to attend graduate school.
EC. Describe the campus “barn program” in which you participated while a student.
N. The barn co-op is a student-run program that oversees the care of over twenty horses, operation of Earlham’s riding lessons and maintenance of the equestrian facilities. Horses were a significant part of my life, so finding an equestrian program was important during the college selection process. I boarded my pony at Earlham for two years. After that, I took home one of Earlham’s lesson horses during the summers when I worked at a camp for underprivileged children.
EC. Who were some significant Earlham community members?
N. Earlham’s strong sense of community and fellowship influenced my decision to attend, and continually awed me during my time as a student. I had great support from faculty and staff while a student, with relationships continuing after graduation. From the outset, I connected with Maggie Jackson in the Office of Admissions, in part due to our shared interest in the barn co-op. Tim and Jay continued to be my academic advisors after helping me tailor my academic plan. Rich Dornberger and Joe Green, whose foster son I tutored, remain close friends, mentors and my “Earlham parents”. “Unsung heroes” Wilma Loftis, who kept me company when I volunteered for the admissions office, and Lynette from dining services, who let me into breakfast a few minutes early on cold mornings after I fed the horses, were appreciated. So many people made Earlham feel like “home”.