Karen Boyd Greenhaw is a seventh-grade math teacher at Henderson Junior High School.

She knows the value of education, both personally and universally.

She gets her master’s degree in education at Tarleton State University College of Education Graduate Studies commencement exercises at 7 p.m. Friday, where she will also be the featured speaker.

She plans to share with the audience the importance of her job.

“It’s very personal,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get through it without being emotional. 

“The premise of the speech is that I got this degree for me, but in getting my master’s for myself, I’m really doing it for others. For my parents, for my kids, for my husband and for my students.”

Karen came to Tarleton after graduating from Stephenville High School in 1991. She was a tennis player in high school and took lessons from some of the Tarleton players.

“I kind of developed a relationship with the players and with coach (Dr. Craig) Clifford. When I graduated, I was given the opportunity to play a little tennis for Tarleton. That’s what really drew me here.”

She competed for a couple of semesters before deciding she needed to work instead of play tennis. 

Now, besides teaching math, she coaches tennis and tutors young students, jobs she has prepared for at Tarleton.

“I’ve always felt like my education here was relevant and the rigor was high,” she said. “It prepared me for what I was going to face, not just academically, but knowing I had the support of the community and everything that goes with it.”

Her commencement address features some information about university founder and benefactor John Tarleton.

“I found out he was a teacher, too,” she said. “We know as teachers we can change the lives of others. It’s obvious how he’s done that.”

Her master’s is the culmination of a desire to do more professionally and as a mom.

“I’ve always wanted to get my master’s degree. There are a lot of elements to it. I’ve been teaching for 15 years, and along that time I felt like I’ve missed some opportunities not having it,” she said. “I didn’t want any more of those opportunities to pass.

“I have four boys, too, so it’s personal. I did it to model for them.” 

With her master’s degree accomplished, what’s next?

“I’ve tossed around the idea of a Ph.D., but at this point I think I just need to get through and reflect a little bit before I decide if I want to keep going.”