|Limestone Grads Come From Near and Far...Very Far|
By Scott Powell of The Gaffney Ledger
Few Limestone graduates have traveled farther than Kayla Hamalainen during their education careers.
Hamalainen comes from Vancouver in Canada where she was a standout softball player. Her prowess on the diamond led to a 2-year stint at Lake City Community College in Florida before she traveled to Limestone College for her final two years.
Her family flew in from Canada to help Hamalainen celebrate her graduation Thursday afternoon from Limestone College. She is now waiting on her South Carolina teaching certificate so she can begin applying for a job as an elementary school teacher.
As she leaves town, Hamalainen is in the final stages of setting up a tutoring program to help elementary students in Cherokee County embark on their own academic careers. She has spent the past several months working with the Student Government Association and the Limestone College athletic department to line up student athletes.
Hamalainen already has 20 students committed for the tutoring program. She is waiting now for final school district approval so the college students can begin volunteering their time in January at an elementary school.
"The idea started in September with our Student Government Association. We wanted to do an outreach program in the community where our students at Limestone College could get involved in working with kids in Cherokee County schools," Hamalainen said. "We were able to coordinate with our athletic department so our student athletes can help with the tutoring program. We hope to have it up and running on Jan. 24."
While the tutoring program is ready to launch, Hamalainen likely won't be around to see it. She will be busy looking for her first job as an elementary school teacher. Her student teaching experience at Limestone-Central Elementary this spring left no doubt in her mind that education is her true calling in life.
"I have wanted to be a teacher ever since I was little. I used to play school a lot with my cousins growing up and I was always the teacher," Hamalainen said. "I am looking forward to starting my teaching career. It's just heartbreaking I won't be around when the tutoring program starts in Cherokee County."
While she won't be there to help out, Hamalainen said she does plan on staying involved with the new Limestone College tutoring program regardless of where her teaching career takes her.
"I plan on coming back for a week this spring so I can help out with the tutoring program," Hamalainen said. "I feel it's important to give back to the community."