People make differences in other people’s lives every day. Whether it is a coach, a boss, a close friend or even a teacher. A teacher that has made a difference in many lives is Mary Ludwig, who is moving on after this semester to pursue a doctorate.
Ludwig has been a history teacher for Laramie County Community College for a total of 14 years. She started at LCCC as an adjunct teacher for five years, which is a professor that teaches only one or two classes for the college, then she has spent the last nine years as a full-time staff member.
According to Ludwig, she was born in 1976, she was raised in Leakey, Texas, which is a small town with a population of 400. Ludwig’s graduating class was a whopping size of 14 students. But it wasn’t the easiest childhood.
“We were actually quite impoverished…(my father) went through 11 brain surgeries, so he could no longer work,” Ludwig said.
Before her father went through the surgeries, he was an mechanical engineer for NASA. With her father out of work, Ludwig’s family bought a small pecan farm.
“It was 152 acres and my mom worked as a secretary, and my dad could work on the farm,” Ludwig said.
The farm was good for her and her family because her father would be able to work on his own time. The farm would also have up to 15 cows, depending on the weather. Her mom worked up to two or three jobs at a time. She said she was able to spend her junior year in Germany before coming back to Leakey to graduate from Leakey High School.
“My good friend, her step-father was stationed in Germany, so they invited me to go over there,” Ludwig said.
According to Ludwig, the experience of living in Germany was eye-opening.
According to Ludwig, the experience and the shock was a good thing for her. The move also helped her draw an interest to history, it gave her an opportunity to see how ancient Europe is and she was able to go into buildings that are hundreds of years old. It gave her a different perspective on the way life is in the United States.
After high school, Ludwig went to college, but not for history.
“I believe most students don’t know what they actually want to do when they grow up, so to speak… so I explored,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig’s first stop was Angelo State, where she studied International Relations, but after a semester she left to go to Southwest Texas Junior College, which was a longer stop. After a few years at STJC, she went back over to Germany, with that same friend, and took a class from the University of Maryland European Division.
After coming back to the United States, she finished her time at STJC and then was admitted into the University of Texas. At first, she majored in nursing.
“I thought I was going to be joining the Peace Corp and make a big difference,” Ludwig said.
The thought of being a nurse didn’t last long for Ludwig as she is not a fan of bodily fluids. According to Ludwig, she had to tell her mom in front of her mom’s boss because she would lose a scholarship that payed for her schooling, since her family was unable to afford the heavy expenses of college.
After some time passed, Ludwig returned to school and received her Emergency Medical Technician degree at UT.
“I did that to see if nursing was actually going to be a good fit,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig went on to say that gaining experience as an EMT showed what hospitals and nursing life was like.
“I said it’s not for me, but hey, I have these great set of skills,” Ludwig said.
After figuring out that nursing wasn’t what she wanted to do, she returned to UT to get her degree in history. After deciding that a bachelor’s wasn’t enough, she came to the University of Wyoming and got her master’s in Native American history.
Along the way, she met her future husband at UW and eventually had two kids as well.
Ludwig has taught many classes at LCCC, including classes on U.S. History challenging courses like the Holocaust. Ludwig is planning to leave at the end of the semester to attend the University of Nevada in Las Vegas to earn her doctorate. She will be receiving a full-ride to the school, but UNLV wasn’t the only school that had interest in Ludwig; the University of Oklahoma, University of Nebraska and the University of Montana also showed interest.
According to Ludwig, the thing she is most excited for is the experience.
“Research material at a higher level, I’ve always loved that,” Ludwig said. “At the community college level my role has been so focused on teaching… so I think that it’ll be fun to start that process.”
According to Ludwig, she hopes to teach at a university after receiving her doctorate.