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Dec. 11, 2017
Sheldon Ledbetter visited Northwest Missouri State University as a sophomore in high school and knew it was the place for him to pursue his college degree.
“It’s brought out the side of me that not just the world needs to see, but I needed to see,” Ledbetter, a Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native receiving his bachelor's degree in interactive digital media with an emphasis in computer science programming, said. “I’m a strong, smart, successful, black Bearcat. Without Northwest, I might have never realized that.”
Ledbetter wanted to follow his mother’s path into the computing field, but he took his own route by selecting Northwest over the environment of his mom’s much larger alma mater.
He arrived at Northwest as a reserved student with little interest in joining student organizations or doing much outside the comfort of his residence hall room. Slowly, his attitude changed.
During his three and half years at Northwest, Ledbetter became active in the Upsilon Pi Epsilon computing honor society. He was a choreographer and historian for the Northwest Dance Company. He served as president of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and Northwest’s chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
As a freshman, Ledbetter was recognized as the top freshman in his academic program. Within the School Computer Science and Information Systems, Ledbetter served as a teaching assistant for six trimesters.
Those experiences, he says, helped him realize he could make a difference in the lives of other people. He says his experiences at Northwest challenged him and molded him into a better person.
“I knew, one, that this is what I wanted and computer science was my route,” Ledbetter said. “Two, I realized professors expected much from me. I had to strive to do even better than I did prior. And three, I gained more friends. I decided to help people with things they didn’t understand. I knew I could reach out to them if I needed help with something.”
Ledbetter also realized the good that can come from making mistakes.
“There’s many times where people feel that being wrong is not right, and they feel embarrassed for it,” he said. “I can’t say I had the best grades at this school, but I realized there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to a teacher or to a friend, and they’re always going to have your back. Being wrong is not bad, and you always learn from your mistakes.”
In January, Ledbetter will begin his career at Omaha Public Power District in the company’s cybersecurity department. He worked as an intern there during the summers of 2016 and 2017.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468