As teacher Christian Getzin’s middle-school students meld an engineering lesson about electrical circuits with an artistic project that uses currents to produce different musical tones, he sparks their excitement about learning. Now finishing his third college degree at UW Tacoma, he models an ongoing quest for education to the kids he teaches.
“I’ve always been passionate about STEM fields,” explains Christian, who teaches in the Bethel School District. “Teaching STEAM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) is exciting and fast-paced. I’m introducing something new to my students every day. It’s so much fun.”
It’s also exhausting. Christian gets up at 5:00 a.m. each weekday, heads to school, teaches his classes, grades papers, plans lessons, meets with parents—all before setting off for his evening classes at UW Tacoma, where he studies information technology as late as 8:30 p.m. Then, it’s home to wife Kahea, a kindergarten teacher, for a quick bite to eat and a few hours of studying.
UW Tacoma’s flexible scheduling makes it possible for Christian to hold a full-time teaching job while going to college full-time. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, he decided to expand his professional horizons by earning a technology degree, focusing on cybersecurity.
“I earned my master’s in education at UW Tacoma and I loved that experience because of the small class sizes and the ability to get to know my professors. It’s why I decided to get my second bachelor’s here, too,” the Puyallup native says.
A two-teacher household salary made the decision challenging, but thanks to donor-funded scholarships through the Institute of Technology, Christian will graduate in June. As much as he will miss his middle-school students, a new profession is on his horizon: He already has accepted a new IT job with the U.S. Department of Defense.
“Teaching isn’t the most lucrative field, so receiving the scholarships really has helped. It took away a lot of the stress and helped me earn my degree without taking out loans,” he says.
With his dedication to learning, Christian hasn’t ruled out a fourth degree one day. He says a master’s in cybersecurity and leadership at UW Tacoma might very well be in his future.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org