A Change in Direction
For Mary Ann (Kastead) Krause '72, Kalamazoo College combined the local and the international in a way that changed her confidence, particularly her approach to situations that don't turn out as planned but morph into something else. In Mary Ann's case, the educational power of the unexpected developed a kind of learning that has never faded.
And access to such an opportunity for future K students, regardless of their financial means, is something worth preserving, which is why five years ago Mary Ann designated K as a beneficiary of her individual retirement account that will support her alma mater.
Born and reared in Kalamazoo, in a family of limited means, Mary Ann started her K journey as a commuter student (or "townie") in order to save money. By the end of her first quarter, she longed for the additional benefit—both educational and social—that she sensed would come from living on campus. Additional benefit? That's saying a lot, given the change in course she'd already experienced at K.
"I thought I'd be a French major, and came to K because of its foreign study program," says Mary Ann. But an inspirational professor (Raymond Hightower) and class (Intro to Sociology) set her on the path for a career in city planning, community development, and public service. "I remember Daniel Patrick Moynihan visited that intro class," says Mary Ann. "At that time, he was the Executive Secretary of the Council on Urban Affairs (later called the Urban Affairs Council), and he was an acquaintance of Dr. Hightower's."
By her first year's second quarter, Mary Ann had moved on campus for a fuller immersion into the K-Plan. During sophomore spring, she was one of eight K students who interned for the City of Kalamazoo, work that included a land use survey that put the eight in the streets as much as in conference rooms. They became a tight-knit circle of friends, a somewhat new experience for the naturally reticent Mary Ann. Her shyness and the unintended "outsider" status of townies had been the social valley to her first term's educational peaks. The city internship served as a small but key step in confidence building.
That small step became a giant leap with foreign study in Strasbourg, France. Life there "far exceeded my expectations," she says. "One of the most important experiences was a 'worst-to-first' surprise." Her companion for the final month of travel backed out at the last minute. Travel alone was not advised at the time, but Mary Ann did it anyway. "At times it was difficult, but I met so many interesting people, and my gains in self-confidence were extraordinary."
Her Senior Individualized Project (a rigorous traffic study for the City of Kalamazoo) and graduation followed. She then earned a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Arizona. During those two years, Mary Ann completed two internships, one for the City of Kalamazoo, a second for the City of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Prior to completing her graduate program she interviewed for two jobs, was offered both, and accepted a position in the city planning office of San Dimas, in eastern Los Angeles County.
And so began her long, productive career in city planning and administration, community development, and public service (Mary Ann was elected to the City Council of Santa Paula, Ventura County, and served four years).
Though officially retired, Mary Ann continues to consult with and volunteer for small communities, the ones that deal with the same large issues as bigger cities, though quite often without commensurate resources—issues such as environmental degradation, healthcare and educational inequities, immigration justice, and affordable housing, among others.
"K helped me see that I could do so much more than I thought I could, and it helped me see that that 'more' could make a difference to others," says Mary Ann.
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