Since her time at Clarke, Mary (Dolphin) Kauffman ’95 has first and foremost stayed curious: she’s used her Psychology degree to obtain jobs in fields as diverse as social services, telecommunications, and even managing in large-scale retail spaces like Kohl’s and Pier One. During that time, she also completed not one but two master’s degrees, the first in Organizational Leadership and a second in Human Services Counseling. Yet, like many of us, when the pandemic hit, she had to shift again.
“I was working from home as a Supervisor for Job Service with the State, while also trying to parent and manage virtual school for four of our five children. It just wasn’t sustainable,” Kauffman said. “So, I stepped away from my job and reevaluated. First, I began pursuing my PhD in Developmental Psychology and that was fun because then my kids and I could work on ‘schoolwork’ together. I was also able to connect my children’s experiences to the research I was doing, and that supported the themes in my children’s book series.”
Kauffman began self-publishing children’s books in 2021. So far, the series includes One Big Sock, One New Friend, One Loose Tooth, and One Lost Toy, which will be released this March. Each book is pulled from an experience in her children’s lives that is easily relatable to children and families throughout the world.
My first book, One Big Sock, came from my daughter. One day, her sock kept falling down, and it was really bothering her. After a full school day and everything that entails, it was all that she could think to tell me,” Kauffman said. “That really struck me as a lesson for kids and adults – sometimes we can get so focused on what’s not going right that we miss the good things. Taking time to step back, adjust your perspective, and appreciate what is working can help up get through big and small challenges alike.
Kauffman herself is no stranger to adaptability.
“I grew up in an Air Force family. I went to 14 different schools and lived in three other countries by the time I graduated high school, so I had developed a real interest in understanding people and different perspectives. I think that’s what led me to Psychology at Clarke in the first place,” Kauffman said. “Amazing professors like Norm Freund and Tim Boffeli really nurtured that interest. I also had an aunt who was a PBVM, and the BVM values of education, charity, justice, and freedom really resonated with me. It’s something I’ve tried to impart to my children by helping them explore and ask questions, and I hope my books can do the same for other families.”
Kauffman is also working on her first chapter book for older readers, a children’s book of poetry, and a book on motherhood influenced by her graduate and doctoral research. She will be promoting her books at the Dubuque County Library on Saturday, May 21, 2022 @ 10:30am and her books are available through Amazon, BookBaby and other retailers.
More information on Kauffmann and her books may be found at marykauffman.com.