Kristin Gies is a double Concordia University Wisconsin alumna, B.A. ’03, M.S. ‘06 but her academic career didn’t start at CUW. First she attended a big public university where she felt she was just a number.
When the big public university changed the requirements of her major, she chose to drop out and attended MATC instead (honored as the MATC 2016 Distinguished Alumna). After she received her associate’s degree from MATC, Kristin started talking to CUW Professor Dr. Philip J. Arnholt about an environmental education degree. The degree didn’t exist…. yet. Kristin and Dr. Arnholt worked together to create the degree, writing the curriculum while at the same time Kristin was learning the material. Kristin’s diploma was the first Master of Science in Environmental Education awarded at CUW.
Shortly after Kristin’s graduation, Dr. Arnholt heard about an open position at the Mequon Nature Preserve and he immediately thought about Kristin. He called Kristin and said, “This is what you are going to do. This is where you are going.” She has been there for the last 10 years, starting as the Preserve Manager and serving as Executive Director for the last six years.
Kristin fell in love with plants. She enjoyed using the slide projector, taking a slice off of a plant, staining it, placing it on a slide and projecting the larger than life image. Each image created a mesmerizing work of beauty. During those moments, she understood the complexity of God’s creation and that we all must be good stewards of his work. This is why she feels Concordia should promote conservation.
Kristin’s advice to current students is to “Get involved because it enriches your experience. As with anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it.” First arriving at CUW, Kristin was a commuter student and had a hard time meeting people. She chose to get involved with clubs related to her discipline and took an on-campus job. Kristin formed personal relationships with her fellow students and professors that she values to this day. What makes CUW special to her? “I loved that the professors cared about who I was and where I was going. Concordia embodies being humble and kind and the value of one human life. Don’t ever underestimate what one person can do.” For these reasons, she encourages students to, “Think big for yourself.”
“CUW has already come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. I’m really excited to be a part of the next chapter and I feel empowered to help the University fulfill its mission.”
Kristin recently accepted a position on the Concordia University Foundation Board. Regarding this decision she states, “CUW has already come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. I’m really excited to be a part of the next chapter and I feel empowered to help the University fulfill its mission.”