By Sam Bailey / Staff Writer
One of the primary jobs of a teacher is to shape the minds of every student who walks through their doors.
However, coming across a teacher who truly shapes the lives of all the students who cross their path is rare.
Ryan Diehl, Curriculum and Program Improvement Coordinator at Hutchinson Community College, is one of those teachers.
Curriculum and Program Improvement Coordinator may be the title Diehl was given, but his students know him better as the Head of the Honors Program.
He goes out of his way to help and encourage his students, whether it be with classes, mental health, life advice, or anything else they come to him for.
Diehl’s job at HutchCC keeps him busy. However, he has found a way to complete a doctorate in Educational Studies with a specialization in Educational Leadership and Higher Education through the University of Nebraska.
“Ever since my undergraduate years, I had considered getting a Ph.D. The original plan was to go directly into a program after my (masters), however, my graduate work in Australia threw off the timing for that plan,” Diehl said.
“I graduated with my (masters) in May and started working at HutchCC in August. The plan was to start a Ph.D. program after my first year at HutchCC, but I fell in love with the place and wanted to stay here instead of returning to the life of a full-time graduate student. I then learned about the (Nebraska) program, which would allow me to stay at HutchCC and work full-time while taking classes online. After moving into my position as the Curriculum and Program Improvement Coordinator, it seemed like a good time to apply to the program.”
Diehl’s mother attended HutchCC in the 1960s, and he grew up hearing about her love for the college. Her stories drove Diehl to apply for a job at HutchCC, as well as experience in job interviews.
“To be honest, I had no plans on actually taking the job, but the job interview concluded with a job offer,” Diehl said, “and fueled by the excitement and nervousness that comes with the job interview process, I said, ‘Sure, that sounds like fun.’ Just like that, something I never planned on ever doing became one of the best decisions.”
HutchCC students who know Diehl are grateful Diehl decided to take the job and are proud to stand behind him on his journey to a doctorate.
“Ryan Diehl has helped me tremendously through my college experience so far,” said Tori Powell, Montezuma freshman. “I know he is very busy between his multiple jobs on campus and caring for students in the way that he does. The fact that he still has time to earn another degree of his own amazes me. As his student, I find it inspiring that he can handle so much at once and still retain the composure that he does.”
Diehl said he has also found support in staff members at the college.
“Dr. Cindy Hoss and Marie Gianakon had a celebration in my office area for me after my defense, which I greatly, greatly appreciated,” Diehl said.
While Diehl will soon take part in a virtual graduation ceremony for Nebraska, he said holding the new title will feel strange.
“I have yet to introduce myself as Dr. Diehl, and maybe someday I will. For now, it is a bit odd to see and hear it,” Diehl said.