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After twists and turns, two-time BW grad finds her place in the classroom

Baldwin Wallace MAEd Science Teaching graduate Kendra BlackburnBefore the ink was dry on her degree, one of the first graduates of BW's Master of Education in Science Teaching program and a BW STEM Scholar, Kendra Blackburn '16, MAEd '19, landed a job in education.

"Before I even graduated, I received a job offer from Menlo Park Academy (MPA), Ohio's only tuition-free school for gifted children in grades K-8," Blackburn says. "I teach seventh and eighth grade integrated science and high school biology."

Hitting career reset

For Blackburn, however, the path to the classroom was a winding one.

After earning a biology degree with solid undergraduate research experience in 2016, she took a job as a research technician. But she quickly began to question the fit and to reevaluate her career choice. She reached out to trusted professors at BW, who listened and talked her through options.

"After some soul-searching, I realized education was the right fit for me even though it was something I never previously considered," she says.

Family matters

Baldwin Wallace MAEd Science Teaching graduate Kendra Blackburn and her sonIn late 2017, her son, Kaelan, was born at 35 weeks and admitted to the NICU. "It was the hardest thing I have ever experienced," she says.

As her son grew stronger, she made the decision to return to BW to earn her teaching certification and master's degree. She found a perfect fit in a new 14-month graduate program for students already holding a bachelor's degree in biology or chemistry.

She dove into the program in 2018 when Kaelan was just six months old and still required frequent doctor's visits and therapy appointments.

"Despite being pulled in every direction, I worked hard and graduated," she says. Oh, and she also earned a 3.85 GPA!

A different life

Life is more settled now.

In addition to teaching core classes at MPA, Blackburn acts as an advisor and teaches an elective called "Manga, Anime and Japanese Culture."

Over the summer, she worked as a volunteer animal care intern at the Medina County Raptor Center.

And in June 2020, she'll marry fellow BW biology alumnus Akeem Santos '17.

Looking back, BW has been a common thread as Blackburn searched and found her way. She says simply, "Baldwin Wallace changed my life."

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