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As a child, she never wanted to be a veterinarian, or a movie star, or a singer. She knew from an early age that she wanted to be a business teacher just like her aunts. “It was in my blood,” she said.

Kara RomanceIUP Technology Support and Training professor Kara Romance is a third-generation business teacher in her family. Her great aunt, who went to IUP when it was a teacher’s college and later taught in Baltimore; and her other aunt, who taught business her entire life in the Punxsutawney school district, are among those who have influenced Romance in her decision to pursue business from an early age.

Romance’s business classes in high school confirmed her love for the subject. They were her favorite classes, and she took all of them.

“I was impressed by my high school business teacher,” she said. “Those classes were fun, and they were practical. I could take what she told me that day and apply it outside the classroom.”

Romance pursued this interest and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Education from IUP from the department in which she currently teaches. At the time, it was called Office Systems and Business Education; now, it is Technology Support and Training.

Romance worked as a graduate assistant in the Office Systems and Business Education Department in Eberly before beginning her teaching career. She taught business for 14 years, most of which were spent at Indiana Area High School. She also taught at Forest Hills Senior High School in Sidman, Pa., near Johnstown. Then, she returned to IUP and is now in her second year of teaching at Eberly.

During the Fall 2012 semester, Romance teaches business and interpersonal communication and an education class preparing students to be business teachers. Although she doesn’t have a favorite class to teach, she said her favorite is always the one she is currently working on.

“It’s my goal, and it’s my mission to make it extremely relevant and to make it practical so that the students can understand how helpful the course can be,” she said. “So with each different class I teach, I take it on as my new favorite, knowing when that one’s gone, there will be a new favorite that comes along.”

Romance tries to apply what she loves most about business to the way she teaches her students. Her favorite word is “practical,” and that is what she emphasizes in the classroom.

“Absolutely that’s always been my teaching philosophy—giving students practical knowledge that they can apply right outside the classroom,” Romance said. “And that’s what makes it work for the students as well. They appreciate the fact that it’s practical and that it’s real world knowledge and it’s going to help them when they graduate.”

Romance also gives her time to serve the university by working on the University-wide Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the Curriculum Committee of Technology Educator Coordinators Council, the Marketing Committee for the Technology Support and Training Department, and the Advisory Committee for the Career and Technical Personnel Preparation Center. She is also the library liaison for her department, a member of the Reflective Practice Group at IUP, leader of a socratic circle book club currently discussing the book That Used To Be Us, a faculty advisor to more than 30 undeclared Business majors, and a faculty advisor for Pi Omega Pi, a national honorary business education fraternity.

When she isn’t busy working, Romance loves to travel. She has been to places such as England, Hawaii, Ireland, Peru, Scotland, Spain, and Wales. She also goes to Florida at least once a year, and frequently visits family in California.

“I do enjoy exploring other cultures,” she said. “I have three children now, so I don’t have the time and resources to do the traveling I used to.”

Romance, a southern California native, spent the early part of her life in the beach cities near Los Angeles. However, she spent the majority of her life in western Pennsylvania to be closer to her mother’s side of the family.

But, she still has a lot of family back in California, including her father. He is from Peru, and, when he came to western Pennsylvania, it was an unbearable culture shock, Romance said. He is much more comfortable living in California with the different lifestyle, the climate, and the people.

Romance also has aunts, uncles, sisters, and her grandmother in California, so she visits a lot. She misses the different lifestyle that California offers as well.

“It becomes a part of you,” she said. “It’s a different way of life for me when I visit. The environment, weather, and influences of my family’s culture are a stark contrast to my life in Pennsylvania.”

Even after visiting many different European countries, her favorite place to travel is still California.

“I enjoy California from top to bottom,” she said. “I enjoy northern California and Napa, Yosemite, Monterey, and San Francisco. And I also enjoy Palos Verdes and the Redondo and Manhattan Beach cities of southern California.”

So why does she remain in Indiana, Pennsylvania, when her heart seems to be in California? Family.

“I have a lot of family here,” she said. “My children are in the Indiana schools right now, and they’re doing very well. We’re very happy with our schools.”

She is dedicated to her family. In her spare time, though she doesn’t have much of it, she likes to spend time with her three children, ages six, eight, and ten.

“I don’t have any time outside of this place,” she said as she jokingly asked if checking papers counts as a hobby. “My days are filled with IUP and the associated obligations. I don’t have a lot of time for the personal hobbies I once had. I have three very active children, and so I guess my hobbies are following them around, whether it is to their musical recitals, dance recitals, or sporting events.”

Even though her job keeps her very busy, Romance said she wants people to know that she is dedicated to her students as well and that she genuinely enjoys helping them.

“My favorite part of this job is the interaction I have with students,” she said. “I enjoy it when they come to my office seeking advice on their documents, asking for further explanation, or just looking for advice in general. Students make my job worthwhile.”

Abbey Zelko

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