Simpson alumna, employee finds joy outside of major

by Mariah Hirsch, Staff Reporter

Assistant Director of the Hawley Academic Resource Center Kara May started her journey at Simpson College in 1986 as a physical education major with an emphasis in athletic training. Her dream job following college was to be an athletic trainer for a professional sports team.

May graduated in 1990 with her bachelor of arts in physical education and became a physical education teacher out of college. Little did she know that life would bring her back to Simpson.

“Everyone thinks A to B is the plan,” May said. “Really, it doesn’t happen that way. Find where your similarities are and what is your passion. What I have found is that I have always been in roles where I am helping someone.”

After exploring opportunities in her career path for a couple of years, May found herself back at Simpson in the Office of Admissions, where she worked for 10 years before receiving an offer to work in the Hawley Center. She has been working as the assistant director for 12 years.

The Hawley Center provides academic support services to all Simpson students.

Advisers are available to discuss individually about anything. Whether it be academic advising, disability services, study tips, tutoring or advising, the staff at Hawley will be ready to assist.

Students from all majors with all grade point averages take advantage of Hawley’s services.

“There is no one type of student we deal with,” May said. “We deal with everybody.”

Alumna Brooke Preston took advantage of the support the Hawley Center had to offer while she was here. Preston attends graduate school and continues to use the advice that May has given to her.

“Kara was awesome and explained to me that everyone learns differently,” Preston said. “I learned test-taking skills that I had not needed before. I use the test-taking skills I learned now that I am in grad school. Knowing that I learn differently helps how I study and how I take tests.”

There is no typical day for May.

She said days in the Hawley Center seem to be fast-paced and a bit chaotic.

“It could be someone coming in to take a test because they had a track meet and they couldn’t take it the normal day,” May said. “It could be someone with a disability who’s needing help with accommodations. I supervise our tutors so it could be working with a tutor.”

After all of the chaos comes great reward with the position.

May’s favorite part of her position is when she witnesses one of her advisees succeed.

“The days I go home really smiling is when someone has been pushing really hard or really struggled with something and there is a resolution to that problem,” May said. “Every day is good, but those moments really stick with me.”

For more information about the Hawley Center and the resources it has to offer, visit