"That first day of student teaching, when I looked into the eyes of the kids I’d be working with, it changed my life."
Rick wanted to discover how he could shape the world, so he chose St. Ambrose. Today, he carries what he learned and lived at SAU into his classroom every day. As an educator and an Ambrosian, he plans to spark never-ending curiosity and exploration in the next generation, and give them the tools to succeed. He is a Computer Science Instructor, Leadership Advisor, and Soccer Coach at Harding Middle School, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
What do you love about your job?
Rick puts his students first and always will. "They are the most challenging part of my job, too. When I get kids who come in here not looking forward to class, and by the time they leave they are smiling and laughing, or excited because I've opened their minds to new possibility of what they can do in their lives, that is the best part of my job."
What did you learn at SAU that you did not expect?
Rick planned to become a physical therapist, but his courses helped him realize it was not his passion. "I failed and I was frustrated. Then I remembered the time I spent helping kids in a reading program, hanging out and talking with them. I loved the interaction and I could tell it meant something to the kids that I cared enough to be there. So, I signed up for education classes. That's how I got started –with a failure."
How helpful was the time you spent in K-12 schools?
"It was a front row seat for every piece of adversity and diversity in education,' he says. Rick realized right there, in a classroom, the role he would play would go far beyond 'teacher' and it prepared him for the challenge ahead. "I got to watch professionals who did an excellent job at helping their students and meeting them exactly where they were when came through the door that day."
How do you incorporate the SAU mission of enriching lives into your career?
Rick leads a group of 50 students who tackle projects that impact the community and their peers. Like at SAU, his students grow through service and compassion. "They get a lot of great face-to-face feedback from people showing appreciation and they gain empathy for some conditions of life that are outside what they experience at home."
What is the lasting impact of your Ambrosian education and experience?
"In addition to its great reputation and great academic standards, for me personally, it was the place I grew up. I know it is cliché to say, 'I showed up a boy and ended up leaving a man,' but there are lots of wonderful things about St. Ambrose University. It is where I figured out what I wanted to do with my life."