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WSU-Rochester grad's degree provides 'a latte' options for her future

WSU-Rochester grad's degree provides 'a latte' options for her future

Emily Kortlever has a curiosity that stretches outside the confines of any one college major.

So when she discovered that Individualized Studies was an option at Winona State University-Rochester, it seemed like the perfect fit. The major gives students the flexibility and creativity to pursue academic interests and professional goals that fall outside any single program.

“I found that I had far too many interests to limit myself to just one discipline,” explains Emilly. “With this degree, I was able to finish prerequisites for a couple of graduate programs I had my eye on — one for Marriage and Family Counseling Therapy, and one for Early Childhood Education. Additionally, I was able to take a year of business classes as I have a bit of an entrepreneurial bug I would like to pursue.”

Now, as she celebrates her recent graduation from the university, Emily finds herself on a path where the opportunities ahead are limitless. The Oregon native is planning to move back out west with her fiancé and pursue her dream of opening a coffee shop and roastery. 

While preparing for this next chapter, she recently took the time to talk with us about her experiences here.

Can you describe your experience at WSU-R?

I immediately felt comfortable at Winona State. While my first year here I primarily was able to take a majority of online classes, I found that the professors were all extremely kind and more than willing to help with anything I needed — even small business networking opportunities. I took a business class from Professor Eberhard last year and even after I was no longer in his class, he gave me the opportunity to hear him lecture at an entrepreneurial lecture series called the Collider Expert Series. There, I was able to connect and chat with some extremely successful and ambitious individuals that I found inspiring.

What have you learned about yourself during your time here?

One of the most significant things that I have learned about myself when I first began my college experience was how many interests I actually have. I probably changed my major six times before figuring out that Individualized Studies was an option that could afford me the opportunity to feel comfortable pursuing all of my interests and finally stuck with that! Though this sounds cliché, I truly learned that I have an internal drive to create my own opportunities and these opportunities are limitless.

What do you enjoying doing when you're not studying? 

Being from the West Coast, I thoroughly enjoy participating in most outdoor activities. I particularly enjoy climbing, hiking, camping, and finding new coffee shops and breweries. My fiancé and I took a great camping trip to Northern Minnesota where we explored the lakes via paddle board.

What inspires you to be the best version of yourself?

I think it is largely an internal drive to produce the best version of whatever is that I am working at the time. This is largely because I feel that I like for others to experience the best parts of life and if it is something that I am working on that can improve someone else’s life or experience; that is a strong motivator for me.

This article is part of a collection of stories being published in partnership with Winona State University-Rochester.

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