Student News

UK swimmer enters learning design and technology field

Caitlin Brooks.
Caitlin Brooks. Photo credit to Ethan Rand.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 16, 2024) — While finishing her collegiate swimming career, Caitlin Brooks was ready to dive into a master's degree. She found her passion out of the water in the Learning Design and Technology program in the University of Kentucky College of Education. 

Brooks was inspired by her parents’ careers in education – particularly the master’s degree in instructional design her mother earned. 

After looking into it, I realized instructional design was perfect for me because it allows me to dive into education, while also utilizing my technological skills,” she said. 

In December, the Gainesville, Florida, native walked across the UK Commencement stage for a second time, this time picking up her Master of Science in Learning Design and Technology.   

Brooks was a UK swimmer during the 2019-23 seasons, earning a Communication Bachelor of Science in the Business and Organization Communication track, with a minor in media arts and studies. She then enrolled in the Learning Design and Technology Master of Science program in the UK College of Education. 

“I hope that with my instructional design expertise, I can someday work in college athletics or for a pro sports team to help design learning material or training courses that they may need,” she said.  

Brooks qualified for the Olympic trials in 2021 and the NCAA Championships for four-straight seasons. She is a 7-time All-American and was part of the 2021 team that won the SEC Championship for the first time as a team in UK Swimming and Diving history. She was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the CATSPY Awards her senior year. 

Even though my athletic journey is over, this degree can allow me to keep contributing to athletics,” Brooks said. “It is going to open a new door of career possibilities for me.” 

Brooks credits the Learning Design and Technology program for strengthening her communication skills. 

“It is surprising how much communication is involved with course content creation,” she said. “I learned how to communicate with subject matter experts when creating a course and this program has taught me how to effectively communicate a topic or subject to a large group of users.” 

One of her favorite memories from pursuing her master’s degree was an internship with the UK FAST Program, introduced to her by Learning Design and Technology program chair Kun Huang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the UK College of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction. 

I was able to design training material for University of Kentucky employees,” Brooks said. “I learned so much from this experience and it really allowed me to put what I was learning in the classroom into real life experiences. It shaped me so much as an instructional designer and I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had working for UK.”  

The experience she gained as a master’s student and intern is now being used in Brooks’ first professional role in the field. She was hired as an instructional designer at Asbury Theological Seminary. 

To learn more about the UK College of Education Learning Design and Technology program, visit 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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