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FAST FIVE: Katie Marshall: Forging her own path with U of I

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | September 19, 2020 1:00 AM

Meet Katie Marshall, University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene marketing and communications manager, student of life and enthusiastic seeker of joy. Born, raised and educated in Montana, Katie made Coeur d’Alene home in 2017. Her journey from treasure to gem states included moves to Minnesota, Nebraska and New Mexico. Since earning a degree in broadcast journalism from University of Montana in 2008, most of Katie’s professional years to date have been in TV news. Katie and her husband Tyler channel their curiosity with backpack trips around the world. Recent favorites include Lauterbrunnen, the Thousand Islands, Mauritius and the Daintree Rainforest. The titles Katie wears most proudly are those defined by the exceptional people by her side: her husband, parents, sister, nieces, nephews and friends.

Generation:

I’m among the oldest millennials, but I’ve been an old soul from the start. One of my first CDs in elementary school was “Billboard Top Hits of the 50s.” I picked up cribbage, knitting and bocce ball by high school.

Career and community involvement:

I’m going into year three with University of Idaho and feel so grateful for the chance to share the stories of people here including our students, faculty, staff and community partners. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by this level of talent, passion and creativity. I serve on the marketing committee for CDA 2030 and recently joined the board of directors for United Way of North Idaho. Prior to our move here, I worked as an anchor and executive producer for news stations in Montana and Nebraska. The transition to communications was prompted by a career opportunity with American Red Cross Blood Services, a cause that hits close to home. Education and public service run steady through my family, so it wasn’t surprising when the twists and turns of life landed me in higher education.

How has the first month of school been at University of Idaho Coeur d'Alene in this new COVID world?

As strange and difficult as this year has been across the board, we’ve been lucky, but also intentional, to have a mostly smooth start to this new academic year. University leadership was thoughtful and innovative in figuring out what needed to happen to get back to class in the time of COVID. Our students and faculty command high respect in the way they handled this return. They proved flexible, communicative and committed to caring for themselves and their Vandal community to keep working toward their educational goals.

Over the past six months, it’s been reassuring to see how the class delivery model we’ve developed across the U of I centers helped prepare us for this time. Videoconferencing has long allowed students in Moscow or Boise to engage in real-time learning with a professor in Coeur d’Alene. I’ve watched our local computer science students share highly technical robotics presentations with their peers in Idaho Falls and vice versa. We’re a big state and a big university, and we do what it takes to keep Idahoans connected and moving forward together.

What are a few new or exciting ventures, programs or projects happening on the Coeur d'Alene campus?

Where do I start!? We added degrees in cybersecurity and industrial technology this fall, and we recently welcomed new faculty members in education and movement sciences. We’re developing new dual credit and lab opportunities for high school students. Next month, we’re launching a high school coding club where students will create their own apps. Meanwhile, our grad students have larger than life robots in our labs and underwater drones in the lake conducting research. The U of I Coeur d’Alene Community Water Resource Center has everyone from fourth-graders to retired lake property owners conducting citizen science experiments. By the end of this month, Coeur d’Alene Tribal youth will release the next round of Voices to Hear podcasts. That project, led by U of I education professor Anne Kern, is all about seeing environmental issues through the lens of different historical and scientific knowledge systems. We have psychology and computer science students and faculty working with Avista on an energy-savings project. Our Region 1 Math Center team is researching rural math coaching strategies. The list could go on and on. We’re a relatively small center, but we have a lot going on and new things to share all the time.

3. What drew you to a career with U of I, and what do you love most about your job?

My mom taught third grade, my dad taught high school business and my sister, who is my only sibling, is an elementary teacher. Through my 20s I often wondered if I missed my calling by not pursuing a career in education. Two of my greatest loves are learning and telling stories. Any role that allows me to pursue both is a gift.

Hearing our students’ stories and what drives them might be my favorite part of the job. One of our students who dropped out of high school over a decade ago just earned best in show at the U of I Engineering Design EXPO. We have a mother of four who’s studying neuroscience at the Harbor Center lab. We have Vandals here in Coeur d’Alene who came from Nepal and Australia. We have veterans from almost every branch of the service, and we have traditional students who went straight to North Idaho College out of high school through to a bachelor’s program with U of I Coeur d’Alene. They all have incredible stories to tell and a real drive to improve their lives and the world around them.

Along with our students, it’s cool to see my colleagues at work. I love watching our water specialist, Marie Schmidt, create "aha" moments for high school students as they find macroinvertebrates while knee deep in the Spokane River. Liz Wargo, an assistant professor in educational leadership, lights up when she talks about getting principals and superintendents to brainstorm over sidewalk chalk. Speaking of lighting up, ask professor Bob Rinker about his high-tech contributions to the Vandal marching band. Our center leader, Charles Buck, thinks outside the box about the future of higher education and how to best meet the needs of people in North Idaho.

Every day at U of I is different, new, challenging and exciting. I’m honored to be a part of it.

4. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

When I need an escape but want to feel productive at the same time, I land at my sewing machine. Usually I’m making baby gifts or home décor, but over the past four months I’ve made and donated around 700 masks. Maybe more surprising to those who know me is that I originally wanted to go into children’s television programming. When I didn’t land an internship with "The Wiggles," I took a job as a news anchor instead!

5. How does higher education enhance our lives, and why should we pursue it?

The University of Idaho and education across the board open so many doors. Whether you’re in one of our 4-H programs or extension classes, pursuing a professional development credit, or working toward a degree, you create so many possibilities for yourself through education. We often use the line “forge your own path” at U of I, and it’s so true. As life often reminds us – 2020 for sure – things don’t always go quite as we plan, but education allows you to carve your way and gives you something that can never be taken away. The new discoveries made through research, the fresh start students create for themselves, and the deeper understanding we develop of our neighbors and the world around us – those are the big things that energize me day to day and the biggest reasons I would encourage others to pursue the wide range of opportunities available through higher education.