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UW Outreach Student from Cody Receives Continuing Education Award

November 14, 2014
two women and a man standing together
Donna Lester of Cody, left, recently received the University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s Outstanding Non-traditional Student Award at a ceremony in Las Vegas. Also pictured are Beverly Bell, UW regional outreach academic coordinator, and Reed Scull, UW Outreach Credit Programs director and Outreach School associate dean. (Courtesy Photo)

Donna Lester has had to make some tough choices the past two years.

Two years ago, she gave up a secure job in Yuba City, Calif., and uprooted her small family to return to Wyoming to care for her ailing mother in Powell. Soon after, her mother died, and Lester had to re-evaluate her life options.

That’s when she met with Beverly Bell, an academic coordinator for the University of Wyoming Outreach School’s regional office, located at Northwest College in Powell. She met with Lester at the Cody Outreach Center.

“Bev is the one who really gave Donna the idea to go back to school to finish her degree,” says Reed Scull, UW Outreach Credit Programs director and Outreach School associate dean. “Donna has a compelling personal story.”

Lester grew up in Cody and Greybull, and attended elementary school in both communities. But, she lived the majority of her life in California.

She has come full circle and, with the help of the UW Outreach School, will graduate in spring 2016 with a degree in social science with an emphasis on psychology and criminal justice.

All of the hard work the past two years has paid off for Lester -- who now lives in Cody -- when she recently received the University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s Outstanding Non-traditional Student Award at a ceremony in Las Vegas. She gave an acceptance speech to about 110 attendees, mostly deans and directors of continuing and distance education units from universities throughout the West.

The award has spurred Lester to further her education. She plans to enroll in a master’s degree program once she graduates from UW.

“I have a passion for working with disadvantaged, addicted people and will use my education to further a career in this area,” Lester says. “I am so honored to be the 2014 Region West Outstanding Non-traditional Student, and I will do whatever I can to support the University of Wyoming.”

As with most Outreach School students, Lester’s coursework is delivered through audio, video and online classes.

”In her acceptance speech, Donna noted that she could not have progressed this far -- and with such a good academic record -- if it were not for Bev and the UW Outreach School,” Scull says. “The Outreach School maintains the regional offices and staffs them with trained advisers and community liaisons like Bev Bell, who help students such as Donna succeed.”

Scull also praises the UW departments of psychology and criminal justice for the “ultimate credit for their commitments to making educational opportunities available” through Outreach School delivery.

“The degree opportunities like the ones provided by these departments change lives, as we see in Donna’s case,” he adds. “As I applaud the fine work of Donna Lester, I also applaud the psychology department and the criminal justice department and their chairs, Dr. Karen Bartsch-Estes and Dr. Adrienne Freng, for these outstanding outreach-delivered degree programs and courses that have helped Donna.”

UW has six Outreach regional centers around the state with academic coordinators providing advising and guidance for UW distance education programs. The Outreach School offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs, and also certificate and endorsement programs in several fields of study.

For more information about the UW Outreach School and Outreach Programs, call (307) 766-4300 or email outreach@uwyo.edu. To view a complete list of outreach programs, visit the website at http://www.uwyo.edu/outreach/ocp/.


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Chad Baldwin

Institutional Communications

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Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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