“I’m an adventurer,” says Katie Flaherty. She was in New York during our interview, freelancing for New York Fashion Week and pursuing one of her many freelance connections in film production and design. Katie is also a major advocate for IU Online, where she earned a BS in Psychology in 2020.
“I like to pursue my passions, things I’m good at,” she says. Travel is one of her passions, so she took a job as an au pair in Paris to improve her high school French. Her life was packed: caring for the children (and teaching them English), taking daily French lessons that targeted the language of French family life, and working on her psychology degree through IU Online.
The flexibility to study online made Katie’s adventure possible. She’d begun her studies in 2016 and wanted to finish with her cohorts in 2020. She didn’t miss a beat. Her professors at IU gladly accommodated the six-hour time difference. They included her in weekly Zoom discussions by sending recordings of the sessions. After reviewing her classmates’ remarks, she sent written contributions back to the class. All her professors were highly flexible, asking only that she submit work by the due date.
Why IU Online? As a native Hoosier, Katie knew IU’s reputation for excellence. Although initially torn between business and psychology, Katie allowed her interest in psychology to prevail. “Psychology is a very versatile major,” she says. “It’s applicable in business settings, marketing, psychological counseling—in any setting where understanding peoples’ inner workings is an asset.” In addition, having a psychology degree will be an asset if Katie eventually decides to pursue a career in counseling.
Katie is now traveling across the US, "keeping her parents on their toes.” She works on set design for scripted films and TV shows. She has even partnered with Pigasus Pictures, a full-service production studio based in Bloomington, Indiana. Pigasus films include such award-winning titles as The Good Catholic and So Cold the River. She builds the sets and props that create the physical and psychological backdrop for the films.
“My IU Online English courses also served me well in set design,” she says. “I focused on plays and scripts—watching how people interact, seeing sociology and anthropology at work. Through these courses and my psychology major, I developed a deeper understanding of people and how they work and exist in society. In designing sets, I use that understanding to create the physical surroundings that express who the characters are.”
Katie says this is a good time to study online. “People understand it’s a valuable and viable option. It’s structured well and the flexibility is a huge selling point. You can tune in when it’s convenient.” It’s important to understand your learning style, she says. “It’s great for non-traditional learners. For a creative type like me, a three-hour lecture is not the best way to absorb material.”
“I really enjoy sharing my experiences at IU Online,” she says. “I want people to understand what a great option and opportunity it is.”