Fit for the Future
By: Alice Allen
The ideals of the CrossFit training program are metaphors for the way that UI masters graduate Caysie Marshall approaches life. The popular program that is licensed to many gyms in the U.S. advocates “high intensity” workouts that are done in a variety of ways and amounts of time. Some of the goals are strength, endurance and flexibility (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrossFit). The program teaches participants to take control of their own fitness.
As with most things that Caysie does, she is dedicated to, and passionate about, her daily 5:30am CrossFit sessions. This alone is admirable! Caysie is a wife, mother of young daughters (Ryah who is 6 and Emry, 3), a fulltime graduate student and also has a part-time job. That is a “high intensity” life for certain.
Caysie started her life as a college student in a fairly typical way. She was young, fairly inexperienced and not so sure that she even wanted to go to college. She spent a few semesters attending classes, growing and then deciding that she needed to take a break. She returned to Idaho Falls, a bit disappointed with the experience and her performance and feeling academically inadequate.
“I see now that one of the things I learned (and endured) from the experience is that we all make mistakes. The real world is not like high school. I wish that I had listened more to my Mom when I was 17 or 18 but we all need to make our own mistakes.”
She got a job, worked hard and then decided to return to school to finish her bachelor’s degree.
“I was so scared at first. I was certain that if anything, life had shown me that I was not smart. But I wanted to be able to provide for my children.”
However intimidated she may have felt, Caysie pulled together her internal strength and started back to school at University of Idaho in Idaho Falls. Her husband Dustin encouraged and supported her decision to go back to school. They are a team and both see the value of education in all of it’s varieties, both formal and informal.
“It was a long (intense) road to the bachelor’s but what an accomplishment! Guess what? I am smart!”
Caysie hasn’t let anything stop her since. She stands on her own credentials and the accomplishments and successes that she has earned through her hard work and resiliency.
After a brief break, she started to investigate graduate programs. It needed to be flexible enough for her to spend time volunteering at her kids’ school. Caysie volunteers a minimum of 60 hours a year at the school helping with field trips, assisting with the reading programs, and other responsibilities. She is an active member of the school’s annual fundraiser, serving as the chair for the silent auction committee this year.
The master’s program also needed to be something that sparked her interest enough to make her want to dig deeper and make it meaningful. She found the UI’s Technology Management program to be a good fit to prepare her for her future endeavors. She was offered and accepted a job as a teaching assistant to help teach some courses. But…that little ghost voice in her head that said “you’re not smart enough” started talking again. Could she really do this at the high level that she expected of herself?
“That first semester I was afraid a lot of the time. I was giving grades on assignments and helping with the online materials.”
At the same time, Caysie was introduced to the workout program and started seriously preparing to run in marathons. While she admits that the running is not her favorite part, she greatly enjoys the training and the actual marathon events.
“I never thought that I could do the things that I can do physically now. One of the best parts of the training and the races is the helpful, supportive, cheering atmosphere. It’s all about taking control of your fitness, not whether you finish first or last. It’s about all of your accomplishments.”
Being the bright, hardworking individual that she is, Caysie connected the dots between the atmosphere of training and racing to her teaching.
“I’ve changed my view on education and I’ve seen a change in myself. When I am creating course content and grading assignments, my feedback and other interactions with students is about helping them. I want them to do their best and I want to find ways to help them finish the courses and their degrees. Education is so important.”
She carries this new view to her home life also. She packs nutritious lunches for the girls each night and has been so inventive (sandwiches in the shape of their initials) and health conscious that staff at the school have asked if they can use photos of Ryah’s and Emry’s lunch boxes as stellar examples. She sets a good example for her kids with her actions both in school and in other activities.
“I want them to be confident and feel good about themselves from the start. I’m not trying to remove all discomfort from their lives or not allow them to make mistakes. That cripples kids. Life is a lot of work. My job as a parent is to prepare them for the road ahead, not to prepare the road for them.”
Caysie has been nominated by her faculty mentors for the Outstanding Masters Student Teaching Assistant award at University of Idaho for her contributions and teaching capabilities. She plans to complete her master’s degree in May 2014.
As for life after the master’s degree, Caysie is looking for an opportunity that will help her to move from college grad to starting on her career. She is interested in working in project management and finding a place where she can, through hard work and time, move up to other positions in the company.
“I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.”
To us, it looks like she is fit for a bright future.