Six years after earning her M.B.A. from the Maine Business School, Kristin Powell is an instructor at the University of North Dakota Honors Program, teaching interdisciplinary courses focused on such diverse subjects as film and capitalism, the Supreme Court and censorship in America.
“I love being a lifelong learner,” says Powell, who researches each subject for six months prior to class. “I don’t have to be an expert to impart my wisdom. My students and I learn together, analyzing the subject and honing our critical thinking skills and our ability to conduct research, to write clear, cogent essays, and to speak extemporaneously.”
Powell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial psychology from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in counseling from Oklahoma State, worked as an academic adviser at Aims Community College in Greeley, Colo., and as a student affairs administrator at the University of Colorado at Boulder prior to coming to UMaine.
Living in Grand Forks with her husband Jeffrey Powell and their three children, she is busy at UND on several fronts. In addition to her honors classes, she teaches a writing workshop as well as courses in social science and in leadership. She also is student life coordinator, serving as an academic adviser to Honors students, and doing recruiting for and marketing for the program.
“I have the best job in the world, bridging student affairs with academic affairs,” she says. “I enjoy designing my own curriculum and teaching a diversity of courses that are both inside and outside my research areas. I like learning as I go, interacting with students and engaging in provocative, stimulating discussions. I enjoy advocating for the Honors Program because these students are talented and driven. We get some students who graduated from a class of less than 20 and may find that transitioning to ‘the big state school’ is challenging because of its size. Having my classes capped at 18 students means I get to know those students and their career goals. I enjoy counseling and advising students because it keeps me young. In my head, I still think I’m in my twenties. College was one of the greatest times in my life, and I am helping it be a productive time for others.”
Powell credits her time at the Maine Business School with helping prepare her for her interesting and challenging career at UND. While taking her business classes, she worked as a graduate assistant for UMaine’s Student Organization Leadership Development (SOLD) Office, where she served as an adviser and taught a class in leadership.
“Through my M.B.A. program, I learned to think critically on topics such as globalization and strategic marketing. I hadn’t ever thought that way before. I had spent so much time studying individuals’ behavior, I hadn’t thought about organizational stages, the different skills needed in starting a business versus running that business, or how financial information affected decision-making.”
Powell says her MBS education has stayed with her. “My students have to deal with my business background,” she says. “I still say things like ‘return on investment’ and ‘decreasing marginal utility.’ I tend to phrase things in terms of my business perspective.”
Impressed with the emphasis MBS placed on study abroad, Powell says she followed suit and made sure to incorporate travel as part of her classes about Ireland and Italy.
Image Description: Kristin Powell