SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – As more than 390 Wittenberg University students cross the stage in picturesque Commencement Hollow during the 169th annual Commencement exercises on May 17, 2014, another round of rousing cheers is sure to come from family and friends of “non-traditional” students who earn their degrees through the School of Community Education (SCE).
SCE students often juggle family commitments, jobs and other life challenges as they work toward graduation, and their stories are frequently moving examples of perseverance and dedication. In 2014, this includes several veterans who studied at Wittenberg after returning from their military service to complete their degrees, including Robert Beckel, who previously served in the United States Army, and is earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology.
Many SCE students transfer to Wittenberg from one or more schools, and some endure lengthy commutes to attend classes. Despite the obstacles, 12 of the 17 SCE graduates in 2014 have also gained membership in Wittenberg’s Eta chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL), the national adult honorary.
Among them is Misty Turner, a first generate college graduate, earing a degree in organizational leadership; Claudia Hearl, who moved from Germany to the United States in 2008 with her husband, a United States Air Force Officer, and is earning a degree in international studies; and Tanja Manley, from Berlin, Germany, who moved to the United States with her husband, and they celebrated the birth of their first child last spring.
Manley will earn a bachelor’s degree in geography and aspires to eventually earn a master’s degree and work in GIS.
Her message to “non-traditional” students who want to continue their education: “If you are looking for a university that has small class sizes, a devotion to developing practical knowledge, and professors who care about the success of their students, Wittenberg is for you. Wittenberg has more to offer than just a beautiful campus. The students, teachers, and staff transform Wittenberg into what we know it as: a great place to learn that prepares us for all the challenges we have yet to face in our lives.”
Each year, numerous SCE graduates earn Latin honors cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude, which signify students with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher while studying in a wide range of majors. In 2014, nine SCE graduates will have their names called on Commencement Day with such Latin honors attached to them as the students earn diplomas in nine different subjects.
Commencement is the final day of an academic journey for SCE graduates, the culmination of years of determination, diligence and dedication. And for that, much applause is warranted.