We caught up with alumna Katherine Laak earlier this spring. She attended Groves Academy from 7th through 12th grades, then went on to earn multiple degrees.
How long were you at Groves Academy and what were a few key things you learned?
I attended Groves Academy from 7th-12th grades (2007-2013). I was diagnosed with Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, Mathematics Disorder, and a Mixed Expressive/Receptive Meaning Disorder.
The main thing that I learned was self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is crucial as a college student with a learning disability because college professors will be more accommodating to your individual learning style if they know what you need ahead of time. Professors cannot read minds. Another thing that I learned was how to push myself to try new things. When I attended Groves, I participated in a theater production and I joined the soccer team. I also went on the Lutsen Ski Trip, which was super fun.
What did you do after Groves?
After I graduated in 2013, I went on to North Hennepin Community College from 2014-2016 where I received my Associate in Arts-Liberal Arts degree. While at North Hennepin, I joined Phi Theta Kappa, which is the two-year college honor society. After receiving my A.A. degree, I was accepted into Saint Catherine University (St. Kate’s) where I studied and received my Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in English in December 2018.
While an undergraduate at St. Kate’s, I took two graduate-level courses as an articulation student in their Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) graduate program. I also worked at the St. Kate’s library from April 2017-March 2020. COVID-19 put a halt to my work at the library.
After I graduated with my B.A, I was accepted into the MLIS Program at St. Kate’s. I graduated with my MLIS degree in May 2020. I am hoping to get a job as an academic librarian after I graduate.
How did your time at Groves prepare you for your
My time at Groves prepared me by allowing me to take challenging classes. During my senior year, I took Advanced English Seminar, Environmental Science, Psychology, and Geometry. Also, Groves taught me to be confident in myself preparing me to be a self-advocate and independent student.
What are some of your favorite memories of Groves?
My favorite memories were the Social Positive Activities for Middle School (SPAM) trips, the bike trips, the Lutsen trips, and the Barter Market. I also LOVED the homework and learning in the classroom.
Why do you think Groves is an important asset to the Twin Cities community?
Groves is an important asset to the Twin Cities community because it helps the rest of the world see that learning disabilities don’t define a student. What defines a student is their creativity and personality. Every person matters.
What would you tell a student new to Groves about
I would tell a student new to Groves that this is the place where you will receive confidence and tools to help you become successful in the world. It will be challenging, but you will be successful with help from the amazing teachers and staff at Groves Academy.
Anything else you would like to share with the Groves community?
While being an MLIS student at Saint Catherine University, I learned about the Little Free Library movement. Little Free Libraries are great for students during this time of social distancing. They have a website where you can find them in your neighborhood at https://littlefreelibrary.org/
This interview originally appeared in the 2020 Summer edition of “Connections.”
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Please contact Ashley Gotreau at 952.915.4258 or [email protected].
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