Grad Stories '18: Bigger Isn't Always Better


Grad Stories 18

Katherine Williams had a plan heading into college: she was going to follow six family members to a large state university, room with a high school friend, and study to become a teacher.

It didn't take long for Williams to realize ‘big' was not ‘better' for her.

"It was really overwhelming," she said. "I didn't really like the big school, because no one really knew me, and I didn't know anyone besides my roommate."

The large state school lacked the personalized feeling that Williams was seeking, and the Moline, Ill., native became homesick.

"I wanted out of that school," she said.

When considering options that were closer to home, she realized she had a connection to St. Ambrose.

"When I was in high school, my mom was an adjunct professor at SAU," Williams said. "I came to campus and thought it would be good, but I was still a little unsure. I kind of took a leap of faith."

And she's glad she did.

On May 12 at the St. Ambrose University Spring Commencement ceremony, she will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education degree.

Senior Katherine Williams

Teacher Education

Williams had thought about being a teacher when she was younger, but in high school she loved writing, so she considered other professions such as journalism, law school, and nursing.

Teacher Education at St. Ambrose

As it turns out, St. Ambrose was the perfect place for her. Williams noticed the more personal feel of campus right away. She was no longer just a number; she was part of a community.

"I got to know everyone in the education department, and even the ladies who work in the coffee shop know my name and my order," Williams said.

Williams had thought about being a teacher when she was younger, but in high school she loved writing, so she considered other professions such as journalism, law school, and nursing.

Then, she recalled the time she spent as a child in her grandmother's classroom in East Moline and realized she really wanted to be a teacher.

Williams said Education professor Edwin Ubeda, PhD, had a strong impact on her education.

"I was one of two students under the ESL endorsement, so a lot of my classes were one-on-one with Dr. Ubeda," she said. "I always took what he said and tried to apply it in the classroom."

Student teaching has been everything Williams hoped it would be.

"It has been amazing. I started off teaching second grade at Denkmann Elementary School in Rock Island and then moved to Glenview Middle School in Moline," she said. "Seeing the transition from students in second grade to middle school was great."

This fall, Williams starts working as an ESL teacher for K-3 students at George O. Barr Elementary School in Silvis, Ill.

"I interviewed and was offered a job about a week later," she said. "I toured the school and everyone seemed so friendly. It feels like a good fit."

St. Ambrose was the right fit for Williams, too.

"It's been such a good opportunity being here," she said. "Sometimes getting out of your hometown isn't the best thing. It might end up being the place where you belong."


Addy Nelson ’23 was born with an entrepreneur’s spirit. With her parents owning the bowling alley in her hometown of Gregory, South Dakota—the same place she perfected her game to earn a scholarship to St. Ambrose University—she learned early to be innovative, customer-focused and business-minded.

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Maggie (Verdun) Bohnert '15, '16 MOT

At SAU, hard work = recognition. Here is a list of full-time students who were named to the St. Ambrose University Dean's List for the Fall 2023 term. These students earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

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