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Chelsea Kefalas Prepares for Teaching in Online Master’s Program

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The future is coming into sharp focus for Chelsea Kefalas, but she has had an eye on the big picture for years.

“I knew that I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but I took a break after my undergraduate degree to get into the workforce and figure out the specific area,” she said. “I knew that working in academics and working in education was important to me — that was my passion.”

The Redding, California, native is on track to complete the online Master of Science in Education with a Concentration in Adult Education program at Southern Oregon University (SOU) in September 2021.

Kefalas is a student services coordinator at Shasta College, in her hometown, where she helps others embark on their higher education journeys.

“I found a love for student success, and I was working my way through different offices trying to figure out exactly what my part of student success looked like,” she said. “Whatever job I did, I looked at it with a student-centered focus.

“I realized that I want to have a firsthand approach with it. I knew that was going to come from teaching. So, I decided to go ahead and get my master’s degree in education.”

The online format helps Kefalas work toward the MSEd in Adult Education while maintaining that full-time gig. She enrolled in January 2020.

“It’s definitely manageable,” she said. “The faculty members are so flexible, and each class follows the same format, so that is helpful. I know when assignments are due and what is expected of me. I always make sure that works with my schedule.

“Any time I have a lot going on in my personal or work life, I reach out to my instructors. They work with me and are flexible. It is nice to know the instructors have my back.”

Creative Thinking

Kefalas graduated from California State University, Chico, in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She took a few online and hybrid courses as a commuter student.

“I knew I wanted to work in education, but I thought that I wanted to be an academic counselor,” she said. “I got my degree in psychology because it appealed to me and was something that I understood.

“Psychology was a good foundation because I understand a little bit more about adult education development and how external factors affect the students,” she said. “It makes me more compassionate and understanding.”

The adult education focus drew Kefalas to SOU’s online master’s degree program. She also liked the shortest-possible completion time of 16 months.

“Being able to expedite the degree with the seven-week courses while working full time and going to school was appealing,” she said. “I enjoy getting the program done at my own pace.”

So far, Curriculum Design and Educational Change is Kefala’s favorite course in the program.

“Before taking that course, I had never had any exposure to curriculum design,” she said. “I was nervous about it, wondering if I was capable of designing and creating curriculum that’s specific for my learners.

“I found that the book was well written when I dove into the course, so it was a process where I was coming up with these creative ideas that I felt good about. I said, ‘I can implement this, and I think that students would enjoy it.’ It was a profound feeling to say ‘Yeah, this is my calling.'”

Even though Kefalas is yet to teach, she believes the information she’s gaining in the online MSEd in Adult Education program is useful.

“It’s applicable to my current role — especially the Models of Professional Ethics and Leadership course,” she said. “That was something I directly applied to the work I am doing now.”

Growth Mindset

Kefalas has had plenty of encouragement from her family and friends while she fulfills her goal of earning a master’s degree in education.

“They are excited,” she said. “My husband, Kristos, fully supports me. It’s also been a dream for my grandmother since I was born. She has a master’s in education, so it was heartwarming for her.

“I have put in my application for the virtual commencement ceremony, and I will share a link with everybody. I got the regalia. I am going to do pictures.”

Now that Kefalas is in the home stretch of the program, she believes that SOU provides adult educators with the big picture in the master’s degree.

“If you’re passionate about education, the program is going to fill in all of the holes, the gaps and the questions that you have,” she said. “They built it out to cover all of the bases.

“I have grown so much since enrolling. It’s important to be persistent and take your time. You’re going to enjoy it.”

Once Kefalas graduates, she will focus on moving into a teaching position. She believes the master’s degree will open up plenty of opportunities.

“I have already made connections within the program at SOU,” she said. “I am hoping to potentially get hired there. If not, I have a lot of connections at Shasta College — especially in the instructional area. I am waiting to complete my degree so I can apply for positions that open. I couldn’t be happier with the degree.”

Kefalas can’t wait to hit the ground running once she lands that teaching position and begins making an impact on students.

“I would like to teach 21st century skills to incoming adult learners — those foundational skills that will set them up no matter where they go with their education,” she said. “As long as you have inspirational faculty and staff members, students believe in themselves and that they can go on and do great things.”

Learn more about SOU’s online MSEd in Adult Education program.

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