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Amy McIntyre plants seeds of non-profit organization in online bachelor’s degree program

As the world shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amy McIntyre took the opportunity to achieve the academic goals she set aside more than 30-years ago

In addition to enrolling in Boise State University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies, she and her husband, Craig, pitched in to help their community.

“We saw on television that there were people lined up at the food banks across America who had never accessed food banks before,” she said.”People were struggling to feed their families amid an unprecedented loss of jobs. We have a lot of yard space, and already had a fairly large garden.”

“Together, we increased our growing space to just over 500 square feet. In 2020 and 2021, we donated all that we grew to the Meridian [Idaho] Food Bank.”

After growing and donating more than 200 pounds of fresh produce in 2021, McIntyre was awarded the Boise State University Hometown Scholarship. The Hometown Scholarship is part of the larger Hometown Challenge, created as a direct response to challenging situations Boise State students found themselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience inspired McIntyre and her husband to turn their garden into a non-profit organization.

“We haven’t completed the non-profit designation process yet, but that will be part of my capstone project this fall” she said of how she is connecting her volunteerism to her education.

“The interdisciplinary professional studies program felt like I was designing my own degree based on my prior certifications and experience and loving what I do,” she said when describing how she has been able to leverage her passions and personal history to shape her future. “I was able to mold it to exactly what I want to do. It’s never too late to achieve your goals.”

McIntyre is a volunteer grant writer for at Boise Vertical Farm, where she completed an internship in spring 2023. She plans to launch the nonprofit organization, Idaho Giving Garden, while writing grants and working as a technical communicator for other non-profit organizations after graduation in December.

Coming Full-Circle

Although McIntyre was born in Massachusetts, she has spent most of her life living in Idaho. She enrolled at Boise State as a single parent in the 1990s.

Amy McIntyre
Photo provided by Amy McIntyre

After leaving school to focus on earning a living and raising her child, McIntyre decided on a cosmetology career before developing severe rheumatoid arthritis and going on disability.

“I was 25 years old when I was diagnosed, which put my plans on hold. I got married, and I was able to stay home and raise two sons — Cody (35) and Devin (24).”

In 2012, McIntyre earned a master gardener certification from the University of Idaho. She stumbled into grant writing at Meridian Middle School after helping start its student garden.

“I never had experience doing that, but the school was awarded three of the five grants I wrote,” she said. “That’s when I knew I had a knack for grant writing and fell in love with it. I earned my certifications in 2018 from the BSU Center for Professional Development.”

When she was ready to return to college, one of McIntyre’s six sisters, Rebecca Mattucci, had earned her master’s degree and was working for Boise State. She suggested the interdisciplinary professional studies program, and it was a perfect fit. McIntyre is also earning certifications in technical communication and non-profit management.

“I love the classes in the program. They are interesting and challenging and I put my all into them,” she said. “The program works by combining ideas and experiences with new learning opportunities in discovering creative problem-solving techniques, understanding context, creating mindful, collaborative and productive professional relationships with reflective and adaptive learning experiences, all with an emphasis on personal career paths. The IPS program is highly engaging, and the professors are amazing.”

So far, the Emotional Intelligence (IPS 375 – Perspective Taking) is McIntyre’s favorite course. She earned a micro credential in the subject matter, and she believes it’s one of the most essential courses available in the program.

“It’s something everybody can and should learn,” she said. “In my technical communication class, I wrote a mock grant with two other people and proposed Emotional Intelligence as a foundational course at Boise State.”

Bumper Crop

McIntyre looks forward to celebrating once she completes the bachelor’s degree program by walking the graduation stage at commencement. She has a 4.0 GPA since her return to Boise State.

“Everybody is so excited,” she said. “I have so much family support. Most of my sisters went to college. Three of them have master’s degrees. I felt that I needed to do that, too. It’s such a huge accomplishment! I have also inspired my youngest son to go back to college.”

With most of the schoolwork behind her, McIntyre believes it’s important to look into all of the different opportunities for certifications and credentials within the interdisciplinary professional studies program.

When thinking of the advice she’d give to other students ready to go back to school and achieve their goals, she said, “Plan it out. Look at all of your options under the degree. You can go all sorts of different pathways. I felt like I could design my own degree.

“Also, persevere and find a great academic advisor. Faye Montoya [interdisciplinary professional studies advisor] was inspirational in offering me solid academic advice throughout my experience at Boise State. Put your academics first, understand and learn your craft, and earn that 4.0 GPA. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, cheer you on, and want you to succeed.”

Although the road was long and not always easy, McIntyre is happy with where she is in her life. She had always told herself she would go back to finish her degree, and she is almost to the finish line. She looks forward to seeing what the future holds as a college graduate.

“I got immense value out of the program,” she said. “I am ready to go out into the world to write grants and help other organizations raise money to fund community projects.”


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