By Andy Newberry, Midwestern State University
Marla Boswell laughed when asked about what advice she would give to
adults about following her education path.
Her journey started out with some indecision and changing of majors and
then was reconstructed with a family and a passion for sign language. The path
was unique. The reward of her quest for learning, a degree from Midwestern
State and a teaching career she loves, was something she shares with many.
It’s a path Boswell “wouldn’t recommend to anyone.” But it was a great
result in her case because she’s enjoyed the last laugh with a rewarding career
in teaching after not one, but two, memorable stints at Midwestern State
When Boswell started at MSU Texas out of Burkburnett High School, she
said she changed her major a few times.
But she'll remember that era for a major decision she didn't waver on,
which was marrying Scott Boswell.
“It’s hard to decide on a lifelong career when you’re 18 years old,” she
said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. When I finally decided to go back, I
was more focused and determined to complete my undergrad and did just that. Is
it easier to go right out of high school and get your degree in 4-5 years and
start your career? Absolutely!”
thankful for the way her life turned out. She recently finished her 10th
year teaching at Burkburnett High School and took a position teaching American
Sign Language and as the varsity cheer coach at City View High School.
happens sometimes, and I believe God had another plan for me, and that was to
stay home and raise my children,” Boswell said. “When I decided to go back, it
meant more to me because I had a family and knew I needed to buckle down and
finish in a timely matter. So my advice would be to not worry about what
everyone else is doing or when. Do what’s best for you and your family, and
that it’s okay to start or go back to college at any age.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY
family got its start at MSU Texas when Marla was introduced to her husband,
Scott, just outside of D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
have great memories from attending MSU, and I’m thankful that I stayed and
attended a local university where I had the support of all my family. MSU is a
phenomenal university and provides an excellent education.”
Boswell was part of the rebirth of the MSU Texas football program when it was
reinstituted in 1988. He was a two-team all-conference player and was inducted
into the MSU Texas Hall of Honor in 2013. He has coached for many years in the
Wichita Falls area and served as head coach at Burkburnett High School
Boswells’ daughter, Lexi, also graduated from Midwestern State after originally
attending Texas Woman’s University. Boswell came to MSU to become an athletic
trainer and is working on her master’s degree through the MSU Texas online
program. Her brother, Jacob, is playing football at Wayland Baptist.
attending MSU football games and being part of the school again,” Marla said.
“We’ve even made trips in one day to watch (Jacob) play and then jump in the
car and made it to an MSU game to support Lexi. It’s kind of crazy, but we love
every bit of it.”
IT’S A SIGN
passion for learning was reignited with a visit to church. She noticed an
interpreter and “was mesmerized” by it.
“I was a
stay-at-home mom and wanted to do something to get out of the house,” Boswell
said. “I called that church to see if they had classes, and they were starting
one that next week. It worked out well because my kids started attending
classes there while I went to class. I started going each week and just fell in
love with the language and seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.”
to learn and eventually teach American Sign Language. That solution was again a
local one as she returned to MSU Texas. Boswell notes she began college as an
Indian and finished in 2008 at MSU Texas as a Mustang. And in between she
received her certificate of interpreting from Collin County Community College
in Plano in 2002.
thankful that I was able to complete and finish as an MSU graduate through
their online program,” Boswell said.
passion for signing and learning has only grown since earning her degree and
starting her career.
“ASL is a
beautiful language no doubt, but more than that the best part is being able to
communicate with others without having a language barrier,” Boswell said. “I
love that my family can sign, and we can communicate across the room with each
other. I also love being able to communicate with nonverbal students and
adults. Most of all, being able to connect and communicate within the Deaf
community is the most important part of knowing how to sign.
believe that we should engage with all people, cultures, and languages. And be
an advocate for others and not seclude anyone because of our differences.
Knowing ASL has helped me to be more engaging with others, and that’s the goal
I have for my students as well.”
Midwestern State University Center for Continuing Education offers beginning
Sign Language courses. The cost of the course is $80. Enroll online at www.msutexas.edu/conted. Enroll in
person at 3410 Taft Blv., second floor of Hardin Administration Building North,
ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Q&A
Current job: Teacher, American Sign Language and Varsity Cheer Coach at City View.
Previously taught ASL at Burkburnett for 10 years.
Graduation year: 2008
Major: Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences
Following are selected questions and answers with 2008 MSU Texas
graduate Marla Boswell, who teaches American Sign Language and varsity cheer at
City View High School in Wichita Falls.
Q: What does Midwestern State mean to you and your family?
Boswell: MSU is where I met
a lot of my friends through being in a sorority (Alpha Phi), and where I met my
husband Scott. We both have great memories from attending MSU, and I’m thankful
now that I stayed and attended a local university where I had the support of
all of my family. MSU is a phenomenal university and provides an excellent education
to its students.
Q: Was there a professor or class who made a difference in your life
or the way you approach teaching?
Boswell: Most definitely! I mentioned that I changed
majors a lot and I love to dance so I took every single dance class MSU offered
at the time. Mrs. (Sherry) Gillespie taught all of those classes and I had
so much respect for her. She made class fun while teaching all aspects of each
style of dance (two step, swing, ballroom, etc.) I took all the classes
because I loved dance, but also because I loved Mrs. Gillespie. As a teacher I,
too, try to make class fun and upbeat while also teaching the content, and I
enjoy it so much. My husband Scott also had her for a few classes, and we were
thrilled that she attended our wedding. She’s the type of teacher/professor who
truly made a difference in our lives.”
Q: What advice would you give adults about pursuing education in the
manner you did?
Boswell: This question makes me laugh because it took me so long to finish my
degree, and I wouldn’t really recommend that to anyone. So my advice would be
to not worry about what everyone else is doing and when. Do what’s best for you
and your family and that it’s okay to start or go back to college at any
Q: What ignited your passion for ASL (American Sign Language)?
Boswell: Honestly, we had visited a
church and I noticed the interpreter at the front and was mesmerized by it. I
was a stay at home mom and wanted to do something to get out of the house. I
called that church to see if they had classes and they were starting one that
next week. It worked out well because my kids started attending classes there
while I went to class. I started going each week and just fell in love with the
language and seemed to pick it up pretty quickly. That sparked my interest in
wanting to learn more and eventually teach ASL.
Q: How is ASL embraced by students?
Boswell: I believe the students love ASL because it’s different and also
attracts the kinesthetic and visual earners. The students are always excited to
learn and enjoy the moments that they are able to communicate with the Deaf
Q: What has teaching taught you about yourself?
Boswell: Mostly it has taught me to not take myself so serious. It’s okay to
laugh at yourself and make mistakes. Teaching has given me insight to how much
my teachers put into building a relationship with me and other students, and
how impactful that has been on my life. I can only hope that I have given a
small portion of that back to my students.
Q: Something people may not know about you?
Boswell: That’s difficult
to answer because I feel like I’m pretty open and honest with everyone. Some
may not know that I am pretty shy and do not like talking in front of people or
being put on the spot. I struggled in
school because I was too afraid to ask questions. I was also a terrible
test-taker. As I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten better, but those are things that
I still struggle with.
Q: How long has
dance been a passion of yours?
Boswell: I do love dance! I started taking classes when I was 7 years
old. I really enjoy tap dancing the most and hip-hop. I was a member of the
Boomtown Babes in Burk and an officer my senior year. In college, I was part of
a local dance studio and attended some competitions. I continued taking dance
classes up until I had my children and then focused on being a mom and taking
care of my family. I enjoyed some adult dance classes, but it’s not something I
do regularly anymore.
Q: Something on your music play list?
Boswell: I love music so my
playlist is anywhere from Boyz II Men, Usher, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross,
George Straight, Zac Brown Band, Beastie Boys, Earth, Wind & Fire, 50 Cent,
to Elvis (just to name a few). However, I mainly listen to KLOVE and
contemporary Christian music. Kutless, Meredith Andrews, TobyMac, Chris Tomlin,
Hillsong, and Bethel Music are some of my favorites.
Q: Something on your reading list?
Boswell: Other than the Bible, I enjoy reading anything by Lysa Terkeurst and
Joyce Meyer. My favorite books are “Same kind of different as me” and “The