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February 01, 2019

Alumni Success Stories

Heather Browne '16

Heather Browne smiling at the camera while working on a typewriter

Baltimore, Md., native Heather Browne graduated from Kutztown University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education: Visual Impairment and Elementary Education, Grades Pre-K-4. After graduation, she moved back to the Baltimore area, where she is now a first-grade teacher at the Maryland School for the Blind. She offered insight on her time at KU and her major in KU's unique visual impairment program.

Why did you choose Kutztown University?
The main reason for my attendance at Kutztown University was my major. Kutztown University is one of the few colleges in the United States to provide an undergraduate program for special education specializing for students who are blind or visually impaired.

How did you select your major?
I became interested in education for students with visual impairments in high school. There are many reasons that I was led down this path. My main reason was I grew up watching my mom, who is visually impaired, struggle with tasks throughout her day, because she was never given the proper training or education. Watching this from a young age made me realize that I never wanted someone to have to cope or struggle with daily tasks due to their visual impairment.

How did you get your job and what do you do?

I currently work at the Maryland School for the Blind as a first-grade teacher. Before graduating college, I secured my job at the Maryland School for the Blind through various summer jobs at the school, my preparation in college, and my love for the school. In my program, I am teaching first grade state curriculum to students who are blind or visually impaired. This means that I teach all core subjects. Along with core subjects, I teach students daily living skills from the Expanded Core Curriculum, which includes braille literacy, assistive technology, and self-advocacy. Along with my teacher responsibilities, I also coach goalball, which is an intense sport specifically designed for individuals with visually impairments. Most recently, I was a part of planning a game that ran for 25 hours and 30 seconds that allowed our school to be named a Guinness World Record Holder for playing the longest goalball game in history.

How does your degree apply to what you do in your work?
My degree gave me the foundational skills of being a teacher. The skills that I received at Kutztown provided me with strategies to teach special education: visual impairments and elementary education. I continue to learn as a teacher in the classroom, but it is truly Kutztown that provided me the foundational skills.  

What professors had a positive impact on your career?
When thinking back about my time at Kutztown University, I could not choose just one professor who positively affected me, because every single professor had that impact. I am truly thankful for all of the professors at Kutztown who expanded and furthered my understanding of the world around me. More specifically, I am truly thankful for all of the professors in special and elementary education who taught me the true meaning of being a teacher.    

What is your favorite memory of your time at KU?
Honestly, there are so many. While at Kutztown, I was blessed to be part of Presidential Ambassadors, Honors Program, Performing Dance Portmanteau, and many more clubs and activities. It is through these, classes, and my overall experiences at Kutztown that made it my home.   

What would you tell a prospective student who is considering choosing KU?
Kutztown is a jewel among the cornfields. If you allow it, KU will provide you with a home away from home. There are so many opportunities to grow as an individual and further your education. Make sure to try new things, ask questions, and have fun. College does not last forever, but the experiences and memories will last a lifetime. 

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