She has been an executive member of Mothers of Preschoolers, held positions in a homeowners association and was the elementary school yearbook chair and a religious education teacher for years. Ms. Olson was the youth sports photographer for her three kids' various sports teams.
She also "fostered, though not through any legal means, a very special little munchkin for four years.”
Ms. Olson said, “She is such a sweet girl. I got her when she was 6 months old and weighed 7 pounds. She was on a feeding tube, and had been born prematurely at 26 weeks, 15 ounces. I heard there was a family in need who needed childcare for two weeks. I volunteered.
“It turned into her living with us for months. She would then return to her family for a short spell, then return to me for months. That went on for four years. At this point, she is almost 8, and weighs 35 pounds. Now I just love on her whenever she visits, and pray non-stop."
Ms. Olson’s 19-year-old daughter, Sarah, is in the honors program as a Meridian Scholar at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. She has a full-ride scholarship for soccer and just completed her freshman year. Her son Eric, 15, is finishing his freshman year of high school. He is a scholar athlete like his sister, but plays football, wrestles and runs track. Todd, 13, is “looking forward to becoming an eighth grader, as they ‘rule the school’ and that is about the only thing that is cool about middle school.”
Ms. Olson is currently the studio manager for Heather Morrow Photography.
“I love being in a creative environment and I enjoy meeting so many interesting people,” said Ms. Olson. Heather does some volunteer work photographing children who are battling cancer, or have battled cancer, for Braden's Hope charity, which has been a “beautiful and special thing to be associated with” for Ms. Olson.
When she was in high school, the Howell, New Jersey-native, opened a United States map and decided she wanted to go to college in either Colorado or New Mexico. “Growing up in New Jersey, with the beach 15 minutes away, three malls within 20 minutes, Atlantic City an hour away, and New York City an hour and a half away, my family didn't travel often and I was anxious to see different parts of the country,” she explained.
“Ultimately, I ended up attending ENMU because they awarded me a partial scholarship that waived my out-of-state tuition fees and made it much more affordable.”
Ms. Olson played intramural flag football and coed volleyball. She started a service organization, KAOS, where female members did a variety of community service projects. She participated in the National Student Exchange Program during her junior year, attending the University of Southern Maine (USM).
“I chose USM, because I wanted the experience of living in New England,” said the ENMU graduate, who did her student teaching at Portales High School.
The former ASENMU president received a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with minors in social studies and psychology in 1991. After graduation, she taught high school U.S. history and world history at Rampart High School in Colorado Springs. She also coached boys and girls JV soccer. After six years, she got married, had children and stopped teaching to raise her family.
“I believe I always knew I would do something with children. I chose secondary education because, in my mind, it was the last opportunity to reach a student before they went off to college and were flying solo. “High school kiddos are dealing with so many grown-up issues, and they are not always well equipped to handle them.”
Her original game plan was to become a high school English teacher, but, after taking Dr. Robert Matheny’s (former ENMU president) “History of New Mexico” her sophomore year, she switched her focus to history.
“Dr. Matheny made me see that history did not have to be a dry and tedious subject. History was vibrant and alive and exciting. Dr. Matheny is the reason I became a high school history teacher.
"I had a variety of experiences because of taking advantage of many of the opportunities that Eastern provides for students. After graduating, I was equipped to be successful in any opportunity that came my way."