Alumni Profile: Carlie Brownlee
Current Hometown: Big Timber, Montana
Graduation Year: 2018
Major: Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
Current Occupation: Kindergarten Teacher
Why did you choose Rocky Mountain College?
I chose to attend Rocky Mountain College because of the tight knit community I had experienced while visiting for the Rocky Mountain College Invitational Choir. I was initially supposed to attend Montana State University in Bozeman but after attending orientation, I didn't feel the same sense of belonging as I did at Rocky Mountain College. I immediately felt welcome by all of the staff and students. Throughout my time at RMC I genuinely felt like a student with a name and not just a number. Staff and faculty always greeted me by my first name, which really reinforced my belief that I made the right decision!
Who influenced you the most while you were at Rocky? How did they influence you?
I was grateful to have many fabulous professors, mentors, employers, and friends at Rocky. During my freshman year I relied heavily upon building new relationships with my peers and turning new acquaintances into lifelong friends! Math has never been my best subject but Robyn Cummings was the first teacher who helped me actually make sense of it. During my sophomore year I worked as a Resident Advisor, which allowed me to meet so many wonderful people! The opportunities I was provided and the people I met along the way pushed me to find the very best parts of myself. My junior year was very important, as most of my classes were focused on what I would need to be a successful teacher. Gail Surwill and Michael Patrick were two of the best professors I have ever had and they both still play a huge role in my life today, always being a phone call away when I need advice. They both truly care about the success of each of their students, and I am thankful for their guidance. As a LEAP Mentor my senior year, I mentored 10 students as they navigated their way through freshman year. Each of those students left a lasting impression with me, and I’m hopeful I left them with a positive experience. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the support and guidance that Steven Peterman provided to me while supervising the LEAP program. Overall, I had very positive experiences with everyone that I met or worked with at Rocky! I am appreciative of everyone's support throughout my time at RMC!
What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at Rocky?
I have many fond memories from my time at Rocky Mountain College. One that sticks out to me was the time I attended a ski competition in Red Lodge. My friend Flayva and I hiked all the way up a snowy hill to watch. After the race, my friend Susan gave me a piggyback ride back down the mountain on her skis while also carrying a set of skis down the hill! I distinctly remember the cold breeze freezing me out as she sped down the hill!. I was truly impressed that we made it all the way down the hill without tipping over! This is something I will never forget. It was too fun.
What was the most important thing you learned while attending Rocky?
The most important thing that I learned while at Rocky was to have strong moral principles and to stand up for what I believe in. The staff and faculty at RMC held me accountable as a student and as a leader. They pushed me to conquer my weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Please describe your educational and career path.
In 2014 I started my career at Rocky. During my freshman year I served as Montana FFA State Officer, an organization I have been involved with since I was 14. Throughout this time I represented the state of Montana and served the youth of the organization. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to work with people and kids. Becoming a teacher was an opportunity to give back and pass along the knowledge and kindness that had been given to me over the years. In May of 2018 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. That summer I was hired to teach Kindergarten in the Billings Public Schools. Going into my third year, this upcoming school year may be one of the more challenging years in recent memory. Continuing with professional development, I have tried to keep enhancing my skills as an educator both virtually and in person. My priority is to provide a safe and loving learning environment for my students no matter the circumstances.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
My greatest professional achievement has been receiving my teaching position with Billings Public Schools. I was so fortunate to have been hired shortly after graduation and I vividly remember sitting at The Vig with my best friend when I received the call. It was an amazing opportunity and I was absolutely ecstatic.
In what ways did your education from Rocky Mountain College prepare you for your career?
Rocky is a much smaller school than many of the surrounding institutions, which allowed for a more intimate setting. Rocky’s faculty and staff have the ability to hold you accountable and the smaller class sizes don’t allow you to miss class without it being noticed. The faculty and staff call you by your name, recognize your strong work ethic, and hold you to a very high standard. The accountability and work ethic components have served to be very valuable in my current position. The professors at Rocky deeply care about your success and future and many of the faculty from Rocky remain my biggest supporters into my adult and professional life.