Laura Gittings-Carlson

Continuing education program developer, MSUB Extended Campus
Billings, MT


October 15, 2015

 By Cassie Winter, University Relations and Communications


What is MSUB Extended Campus all about, and what are your roles?

 “Our four core goals are to work with community programs, continuing education, workforce education and training and provide conferences and special events. I focus on are community programs, so that would be Chicks in Science and all the summer camp programs like Kids on Campus. With our summer academic program we do things like Lego robotics, Raspberry Pi a C.S.I. (crime scene investigation) camp. New this year we are doing resident camps where tenth and eleventh graders actually spend the night in MSUB Residence Halls to give them the opportunity to see what it’s like to be on a college campus. I’m really involved in is K-12 education. Every five years K-12 educators.”

 Why do you think engaging youth at a young age is important?

 “I am a huge believer that we need to engage our youth with both campuses and I think the sooner we can expose them to our university and college the better. It makes no difference if the children come from families who have gone to college before or if they are first-generation students. I think it is extremely important that we expose them to both the campuses so they have an idea of what college life is all about. There are a lot of kids who don’t completely understand what college is and they don’t understand that so many doors can open if you get an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree. I think a lot of folks don’t completely understand how they can pay for it either. I love the fact that Financial Aid will take them through FAFSA and get them on track with that. One of the very first things that we did when we moved to Billings (I have two little boys), is we went to the Harry Potter event that took place at the MSUB Library. We walked around campus–it was the hook that got us on campus­–my boys really enjoyed that.”

Why is involving the community with MSU Billings meaningful?

 “I think it is very important for the community to know we’re here and that we do provide professional development and we also provide classes that anyone can take. I have friends that audit classes and that’s something I don’t think folks completely understand that you can audit a class if you’d like. We do some amazing things within the community such as the MSUB Day at the Zoo. When MSUB sponsors baseball nights, that’s really fun. I think getting people on campus to see our amazing exhibitions in the gallery is very important or coming to hear a lecturer talk in one of the library series. It is extremely important to get people on campus so they better understand what the amazing faculty at MSUB and City College are doing.”

What about your background really drove you to help provide opportunities for the community?

 “My love of working with children and providing informal education opportunities has stemmed from my professional and volunteer opportunities at museums and art organizations including the Museum of the Rockies, Holter Museum of Art, Montana Historical Society, Children's Museum of Northeast Montana, and ArtSpot. I also greatly enjoy working with K-12 educators and helping them find professional development that will ultimately enhance children's education. I’m very passionate about kids and also I’m very passionate about community and that is what we do here—we help connect the community to campus.”

What can the community look forward to at Extended Campus?

 “We are developing many new programs and are hoping to work with more faculty members as well as community members. There are some very exciting new programs that will be coming out in the near future.”

To learn how to get involved visit the MSUB Extended Campus website for a complete list of programs and events.