Alumna champions online learning for higher education
Former gymnastic champion Ivonne Chirino-Klevans, ’88, ’90, learned a brand-new meaning to the word “balance” while attending Georgia College.
At age 17, the international competitor landed a full gymnastics scholarship to the university.
“Georgia College taught me how to prioritize and coordinate my life around gymnastics, classes and extracurricular activities,” said Chirino-Klevans, who now serves as program director at Walden University’s Center for International Programs. “I had a strong support system. My parents, coaches and professors gave me the attention I needed to succeed.”
The gymnast competed internationally with Mexico City’s national gymnastics team. The team earned a bronze medal in the 1979 Pan American Games and in the 1981 Central American Games.
“By the time I arrived at Georgia College under head coach Geza Martiny, I had the experience,” Chirino-Klevans said, “but he really showed me support, and the importance of being a team player inside and outside the classroom.”
In attending Georgia College, the Mexico City native wanted to experience a small-town atmosphere after spending years in the big city.
“For my professors and coaches to know me on a first-name basis and genuinely take interest in my professional and competitive success was a great feeling,” she said.
Chirino-Klevans earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology at Georgia College. She also served as an active member of the Georgia College International Club.
A strong believer of merging passions, Chirino-Klevans returned to Mexico City after college where she provided psychology services to the national gymnastic and rowing teams.
“Psychology fits my personality,” said Chirino-Klevans. “Georgia College prepared me to help athletes deal with anxiety and stress and to set goals to enhance performance.”
She returned to the United States to become assistant dean of executive education at Duke University.
“I had to identify development needs for corporate clients,” she said. “Now, at Walden, I have the opportunity to teach online management and psychology courses on a global level.”
During the past five years at Walden University, Chirino-Klevans has taught online classes from home in Cary, N.C.
“I plan to partner with more Latin American and Puerto Rican universities and other institutions to expand awareness about online learning opportunities,” she said. “Anyone can succeed in the right learning environment, which, for me, began at Georgia College.”