Faculty Feature: From Horse Training to Sociology
Kelly Mason-Davis has taught others throughout much of her life—but she didn’t set foot in the traditional classroom until 2007, at the age of 31.
The Boulder Native’s First Love was Horses
Her father ran a ranch and her mother was a horse enthusiast. Although Kelly started out at Colorado State University and completed several semesters at Central Missouri State University, her main focus for over a decade was training horses all over the world. At the age of 29, she returned to college at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) to figure out her next steps in life. “I found sociology, and it was like the light of the world was turned on for me,” Kelly says. “The world began to make sense.”
Finding Her Heart as a Teacher
Kelly earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology and clinical sociology from UNC in 2007 and 2009. She planned on becoming a counselor, but during her master’s work, she began teaching as a graduate assistant—and the rest was history. Kelly started a Ph.D. program in human rehabilitation, but when a lecturer opportunity presented itself in 2008 in UNC’s sociology program, she jumped at it. A semester later, she started teaching as an adjunct sociology instructor at Front Range Community College, too.
“I didn’t realize I was a teacher before I started teaching at Front Range,” says Kelly, who teaches Introduction to Sociology, Social Deviance and Sociology of Religion at both the Larimer and Brighton Center campuses. “My philosophy before was that I was an academic—that I taught so I could do research. But at FRCC I discovered that I also can teach and that I’m good at it.”
Applied Research to Benefit Her Students
Society, Kelly says, creates the individual. When she isn’t busy teaching, she’s researching that very tenet of sociology, consulting with defense organizations to profile capital murderers and studying youths who join street gangs. Kelly finds ways to bring that knowledge into the classroom. “I am an applied sociologist,” she says. “Classroom engagement is far more important than anything else I do.”
A Supportive Environment for Students
In the classroom, Kelly strives to build a supportive network among students—and a better educational experience for each and every individual. “As a sociologist, I believe that it’s easier to move through life as a collective,” says Kelly. “That’s what FRCC does and what gets me most excited about teaching. My most rewarding experiences have been watching my students grow as people and move on with their lives.”
Students Return the Support
And Kelly’s students, it seems, are as committed to her as she is to them. When she was diagnosed with tissue cancer in October 2012, her FRCC students held a benefit to raise money to assist with her medical bills. “They said I had impacted their lives so much that they wanted to do something for me,” she recalls, now thankful to be in remission. “The support from my colleagues and students was overwhelming. But that’s Front Range. That’s the type of community that is fostered here.”
Among the many things she enjoys about her FRCC job, Kelly appreciates the diversity of students, the student-faculty bonding in the classroom, and the life skill-building process that takes place with students new to college. “There is a strong sense of community here,” she says. “I absolutely love this place, and feel my job here is important.”