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From the Army Into the Gym Army Veteran Charges Ahead to Teach Physical Education

05/01/12

Five years serving in the U.S. Army paved the way for Kelly McCormick's education at Bowling Green State University on her way to becoming a physical education teacher. As an athlete in her hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, McCormick played basketball, softball and volleyball, with a long-term goal of playing in college. “I didn’t know about the process for getting into college to play sports. I thought they would come to me. When that didn’t happen, I had to rethink my plans. My family couldn’t pay for my college, so I had to figure out how to do that,” she said.

She opted to enlist in the Army, in order to use the G.I. Bill to help pay for her education when she was done. Trained in aviation communications, her job was to set up communications for helicopters on missions. “Most of my time was spent in Honduras. I would set up the communications for them to talk back to the ground, and then I would have time to travel,” she explained. She saw Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua in her spare time, but found Honduras the most endearing and beautiful of those Central American countries.

The military experience proved to be an eye-opening opportunity. “I always thought everyone had the same amenities, but when I saw people bathing in the creeks, and the orphanages filled with kids, I started to see the big picture,” she admitted. “Here were these people who had so little, and yet, I would see them always so happy. Even though they didn’t have much, they loved to celebrate.

“It was life changing for me,” she said, adding, “It helped prepare me for the next step in my life.”

For years, she has wanted to be a teacher to make a difference in students’ lives the way some of her teachers have impacted her life. “I’ve had many wonderful teachers, but in my case there was one teacher, Diane Majoy, an intervention specialist, who was one of my coaches. She is the reason I wanted to get into coaching.”

According to McCormick, Majoy was always positive and came to the gym energetic and upbeat. And from the time she stopped to ask McCormick why she wasn’t trying out for volleyball as a high school freshman, “she showed that she believed in me,” the College of Education and Human Development student said.

Adding volleyball to her athletic repertoire was a plus for McCormick. The teamwork, leadership and responsibility she learned through volleyball and the other sports served her well, especially when it came time to serve in the Army.

In turn, when she was ready to pursue a University education, the addition of the Army training gave her a strong foundation. “The military experience allowed me to start college ready to work, not just to get through the classes,” she said. “I was eager to learn, especially the things that I could take into the classroom after I graduate.” After student teaching in Port Clinton’s elementary and middle schools, she decided to pursue a job working with the younger children “because they are so excited to see you every day.” Though, she was quick to point out, middle schoolers have their positives too. “They have more responsibilities and respond to peer learning where they have roles and teams to work with.”

When McCormick graduates May 5, it will be her way of saying thanks to the teachers, coaches and BGSU faculty members who have put in so much effort to teach her. It’s the circle of life. “It will be my turn to give back and hope to have someone thank me, like I am thanking them for making a difference in my life.”