Cornell University

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Student Profile

Kate Edwards, MILR '08

A short tale on why Kate has chosen HR

Kate with her students in Costa RicaMy name is Kate Edwards, and I’m a first year MILR student here at Cornell University. My interest in human resources is multifaceted. The most obvious link between my background and my goals to study and work within this field is rooted in my undergraduate cultural anthropology major at the University of the South (Sewanee). Cultural anthropology, much like organizational behavior studies, works to understand human behavior, and makes its assertions based upon participant observation, data manipulation, and analysis, with a focus upon objectivity. But the greatest reason anthropology has led me to the field of HR is that it has intensified my fascination with unearthing patterns, teaching me to see them in the habits, interactions, motivations, objectives, and self-representation of human beings.

Kate with co-workers from the NY LotteryI have studied and worked abroad several times, as a student in France in high school, college, and graduate school, and recently as a teacher in Costa Rica. My experiences, professional and academic, have focused upon building relationships and networks of communication. After college, I volunteered as an interpreter for the Special Olympics World Games, where I worked with people from all over the world, serving populations who had distinctive and pressing needs for culturally-specific personal, medical, emotional, and linguistic support. Shortly thereafter, I worked in public relations and marketing for the Empire State Games on behalf of the New York Lottery, learning the ins and outs of the bureaucratic organization of public service.

With friends in Paris, France while studying abroadIn pursuit of a Master’s degree at Middlebury College’s program in Paris, I examined the social importance of specific mechanisms of communication in France, and specifically political theater and how it has mutated over time. Since then I have dedicated myself to building strong and lasting educational programs with an international focus, helping At Virginia Techthe State University of New York to found the Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce and leading Virginia Tech’s efforts in the field of study abroad. This past year in Costa Rica, I taught English to the children of a small town buried high in the cloud forest, and worked hard to convey the importance of preserving natural resources, attending school, and respecting family, classmates, teachers, community members and tourists, all the while exchanging observations with my students about the remarkable differences that exist among peoples.

Kate in the South of FranceThe thing is, I’ve discovered that Human Resources, and especially when practiced in global companies, is a big conglomeration of all the elements I’ve ever loved in my past jobs; it involves heavy doses of relationship-building, intercultural and interpersonal communication development, and puzzle-cracking. At Cornell, I am preparing to do the people work that each and every organization relies on to be successful. I’ll be driving strategy through relationship management, and will work as an organizational architect to achieve optimal levels of job satisfaction and productivity among workers, and to enable them to work together to achieve organizational and personal goals in the best possible way. This is where the real action happens. What an exciting place to be!

- Kate Edwards, MILR '08

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