Five staff members in the University's Office of Scholarships and
Financial Assistance will receive bachelor's or master's degrees during
Northwest commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 2. They are, from
left, Kari Long, Lacy Rudisill, Jessica Murray, Amee Wilmes and Teresa
April 22, 2009
Taking the fifth: Five financial aid staffers to receive diplomas
There is no question that the Office of Scholarships and Financial Assistance at Northwest is one of the busiest and most important operations on campus, since approximately 80 percent of the University's nearly 7,000 students receive some sort of financial aid. But besides excelling at work, Financial Assistance staff members have also been excelling in the classroom.
During commencement exercises on Saturday, May 2, five members of the office's 14-member staff -- more than one third -- will don a cap and gown, march into Bearcat Arena and receive either a bachelor's or master's degree.
"Everyone in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Assistance is very proud of our colleagues who are graduating this spring," said Del Morley, director of financial assistance. "I think this says a lot about the work ethic and dedication of our employees and their commitment to growing professionally in order to provide the best possible service to Northwest students."
Of the five graduates, two are student employees who are receiving baccalaureate degrees: public relations major Kari Long from Harlan, Iowa, and merchandising and history double major Lacy Rudisill from Fairfax.
The three remaining degree candidates are full-time University employees. Financial Assistance Specialist Teresa Burnsides, a psychology major from Maryville, will receive a bachelor's degree in psychology. Financial Assistance Counselor Jessica Murray and Pell Grant Coordinator Amee Wilmes are both candidates for master's degrees in higher education leadership.
"Due to family and personal obligations I had to put my higher education goals on hold," Burnsides said. "After my children were grown I decided to pursue completion of my degree and, because of the opportunities that Northwest provides, I was able to do so."
Wilmes said she had always wanted to earn a post-graduate degree, and that the University's newly established master's in educational leadership -- which is designed to prepare in-service university staff members for middle management positions -- provided the perfect opportunity.
Likewise, Murray said the educational leadership program served as a catalyst for moving her forward toward the next level of academic achievement.
"as a first-generation college student, I have always had the desire to pursue a master's degree," she said, "As a part of the first cohort in a new degree program I was able to learn a great deal about higher education and leadership. Also, this journey with my fellow cohort members has allowed me to make friendships that will last forever."
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