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Important Advice for Aspiring Education Innovators: Be Passionate About Your Work

By Joseph Kankolongo

“When you love what you do, you can pursue your dreams and make an impact in your career.”

Kelly Gump has demonstrated this throughout her career and particularly in her role as Educator Competency-Based, Student Advocate, Experience Designer and Remote Work Advocate. She is the head of reviewers at College For America, Southern New Hampshire University, which offer competency-based degree and certificate programs. Unlike traditional programs that require a certain number of credits or courses, competency-based programs let students earn a degree by mastering individual skills (competencies) and completing real-world projects instead of taking tests.

Kelly is working behind the scenes supporting reviewers and making sure that students are receiving quality service. The reviewers evaluate projects submitted by the student based on certain criteria. They provide constructive feedback on things that need to be improved. If the student’s project meets the criteria, the project is marked as mastered.


“Even though I am not working directly with students, I am still collaborating with those who provide feedback to students reviewers,” said Kelly. “My work is to make sure that only constructive and respectful feedback is being sent to students who still need to improve their projects.”

With her relaxed manner and nonstop smile, Kelly is helping young people have a crucial impact on society. She works with adults at SNHU, but in her personal life, she also tries to bring awareness to parents about the importance of education by advising them to form good relationships with kids’ teachers. As stated on her profile, Kelly is an “experienced educator, military spouse, a mother of a family who wants parents to forge an excellent relationship with their children’s teachers.”

Kelly is demonstrating this fact by talking to parents and mobilizing them about the importance of education.

“I do not just want my students to be successful in their courses but also knowledgeable about science,” she said.

Key lessons from the innovator

I was interested to hear Kelly’s advice for students like me who want to perhaps become an educator in the future. Here's her advice:

● Keep dreaming and make your dreams a reality: always think of something useful. Reach out to others, learn from them and apply their insights.


● Work hard! “Good things come from sacrifice; nothing comes for free,” she said.


● Kelly emphasized that we do good and become successful in our careers when we are motivated and passionate about our work. If you don’t love what you are doing, you end up stopping or giving up.


● Create a network and share ideas. “It is not only about what you know, but also who you know,” she said. “You might know many things, but if nobody is aware, it is difficult to have an impact. Keep an open mind, build a great network and showcase your skills.”


● Keep talking to others and learn from their experiences. You might think you have a great and genius idea. After discussing with friends and colleagues you figure out that your idea was actually not the best.


Key takeaways

I was impressed by Kelly’s enthusiasm for education and focus on bringing awareness about the importance of education to parents. Like Kelly, I want to speak up about education.


For me, it will be in Africa. Many politicians let us down. Young people are often used for political purposes and are left frustrated by political leaders’ empty promises. I look forward to being an upfront worker who will change and improve others’ lives through education. I will provide platforms where I will be speaking to communities and promote education.


It will be important for me to gain further education in this field to understand and know how to conduct research and present useful outcomes for the benefit of society.

After hundreds of years, Africa is still under development. One of the reasons is that education is not yet the main focus for Africans. Kelly’s inspiration will push me to directly forge a good relationship with young people’s parents and start talking about education. This will help parents and young people be aware of the importance of education.


It is sad to see people being awarded not because they are the best fit but because they dance for the authority in place. Education will have an impact on changing this fact that destroys the continent. I love educating others and seeking further education which will help me in this goal. As I learned from Kelly, I am well positioned to do this because I have a passion and love for this work!

Connect with Kelly Gump on LinkedIn. Joseph Kankolongo is a student at Southern New Hampshire University. He just completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a concentration in Business. Connect with him on LinkedIn.