MaryAlice Coulter


All things considered, there aren’t too many things that scare MaryAlice Coulter.

Taking classes at JCCC when she was only 15 years old? Pfft. Okay, maybe the first day she was a little scared.

“Nervous, maybe. Maybe nervous is the better word,” she explained. “I wasn’t really scared.”

Testing for her second-degree black belt? Nah.

“I’ve been in karate since I was 2, really. My whole family started karate when I was 2, but I couldn’t take classes until I was 5. So I really began when I was 5, and I haven’t stopped since then.”

Taking college algebra before she was even allowed to buy a lottery ticket?  Nope.

“I started out taking intermediate algebra, even though I think I could have gone right into college algebra. But I think I made the right decision, since once I got into college algebra, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, yeah, I can do this,’” she said.

In fact, Coulter loves doing so many things. Coming to JCCC is one of them. She’s been a JCCC student since she was 15 and attending the Basehor-Linwood Virtual School. The school allowed her to work at home, at her own pace, on high-school-level classes, but she also wanted classes with more interaction.

Her brother was already attending JCCC. Her sister had done so as well. It seemed logical for the youngest Coulter to take some classes, too.

“That first semester, I took six hours: three hours of ceramics, and then one hour each of yoga, archery and volleyball,” she said. “It was so much fun.”

Her favorite class thus far has been math. Or ceramics. Or maybe French. French was fun. “I’m kind of all over in my interests,” she said, laughing.

She’s remained steadfast in her love of karate, however. She trains at AKKA Northland and finished all the belt levels in the junior division. Now she’s working her way through the adult division, and she’ll be testing for a new level in December with her mother by her side. Her mom will be going after a fifth-degree black belt.

“There really is no part of me that has not been shaped by karate. When I came to school, I could focus because of karate,” she said. “When I was 15 and everyone else in class was so much older, karate gave me the confidence I needed.”

Her career goal is to become a veterinarian. To that end, she’s been taking classes at JCCC to one day transfer to a veterinary program, and she volunteers weekly at Wayside Waifs.

“What that really means is that I get to hug kittens for two hours,” she said. “It’s great.”

Her own home is a menagerie. Coulter lives on a farm south of the college and has one horse (Lily – “We have an agreement where no riding is involved,” Coulter said), one sheep (Andy – “Now I can get him to carry me around”), one goat (Chester) and five cats (Batter – “the love of my life,” Tiger, Sneakers, Lucy and Desi – “I’m fairly certain I’ve seen every episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ in my lifetime”).

There are multitudes of chickens and ducks, too, and yes, they all have names, but this story is only so long…

One duck, though, does deserve a name drop. Sam was a duck with one leg shorter than the other, and he limped around the farm but “got along just fine,” said Coulter.

“He was the sweetest thing. He was the first duck to really trust me,” she said. “I’ve even thought about getting a tattoo with ‘Sam’ on it.”

Coulter smiled. “Of course, then I might have some explaining to do.”