Versatility is Key
For Sarah Clausen '14, M'15, Trinity education proves versatile, demonstrates value of connections
Thursday, December 17, 2020
sarah clausen smiling at camera with a maroon gradient to the side of her, with the text "sarah clausen '14, m'15" and the trinity logo

The stars aligned when Sarah Clausen ’14, M’15, found herself searching for her next career move, as the Trinity network and its curriculum’s emphasis on versatility brought an opportunity that combines Sarah’s talents with her passions. 

Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sarah studied art history and communication as an undergraduate student. She credits Trinity’s focus on experiential learning as particularly impactful. With the help of academic departments and Trinity alumni connections, she completed three internships as an undergraduate: “I explored what I was studying in a real-life context, which helped me navigate my future career path,” Sarah said. 

The internships also taught Sarah how different jobs integrated with her personality. She found she preferred “creativity within structure” as her favored way of working and connected this preference to the field of teaching. In a classroom, “every day is different,” she said. Taking education classes her senior year coupled with a more nuanced understanding of her preferred way of working helped solidify career aspirations in the education field. With help from her education professors in one-on-one advising and an array of prerequisite coursework, Sarah forged a new path and enrolled in Trinity’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. 

After earning her MAT degree and teaching first grade for three years in a San Antonio school district, Sarah found she needed to step back and reassess her career path. As she explored different options, she worked in management in the local food industry. “I took a random job just to decompress, open myself up to new skills, and reset my focus,” she said. 

This time in Sarah’s career proved particularly impactful and opened doors that were previously unknown. “[Working in the food industry] was a really formative step to where I am now,” she said. "I learned that I loved being around people and helping them reach their own potential. However, I needed a different environment from both the traditional classroom and the service industry." Sarah went to Trinity’s Career Services as an alumna, where she explored other interests with help from Twyla Hough. Sarah simultaneously enrolled in Texas A&M-San Antonio’s human resource certification program.

Sarah and Twyla identified consulting as a potential field to enter, and together they browsed a list of Trinity alumni to which Sarah might be connected. She connected with Lara Kilgore, who had just started her own business, and Sarah began working part-time in the food industry and part-time for Lara’s burgeoning business, Beyond Education, an education service providing homeschooling, one-on-one instruction, college advising support, and test preparation. “We ended up tag-team teaching a homeschool student who was [Lara’s] main client at the time.” Sarah began to fall in love with teaching again.

Sarah recalls a pivotal moment: “I loved what I was doing for her business so much that I asked her how we could make it into a full-time gig.” The moment was right for Sarah to move back into education, combining her versatile skill set in teaching, human resources, and communications with her love for creativity and variety in a job. “I really enjoyed one-on-one teaching. I could focus on the individual and really hone in on helping them grow,” Sarah said. 

As a homeschool instructor, mentor, and educational consultant at Beyond Education, Sarah stays true to her passions: individualized teaching, working with a variety of students of all ages and interests, business strategy setting, and agency on-the-job. She even incorporates art history, one of her majors, into her instruction at all levels. Sarah applies the same tools she received at Trinity as a student to her instruction of her current students. “Trinity gave me the skills I needed to advocate for myself as a learner and how I operate best. That’s something I really want our students to keep in mind. When we’re working with our students, we cater to their academic needs, but also their social and emotional needs—helping them learn about themselves in the process,” Sarah said. Beyond Education now hires Trinity MAT graduates as mentors, so Trinity continues to be a through-line in the business.

The saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20.” The value of Sarah’s experiences and connections is plainly evident when looking at her journey in and out of education. A common thread is versatility—having a diverse skill set, being unafraid to change and grow, and staying true to individual passions and preferences. Sarah credits her Trinity experience, saying, “Trinity prepared me to be versatile. And being versatile is really helpful in the job field.”

Sarah doesn’t concretely know what’s next for her long-term, but of the things that are certain: Her Trinity education, experience and the connections she developed as a student and alumna will be a north star.

Kassie Kelly '18 is a nonprofit professional in fundraising and communications. She is the membership & audience engagement manager for nonprofit digital news source San Antonio Report. A Trinity graduate, she majored in music and political science with a minor in Arts, Letters, and Enterprise.

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