WILLISTON, N.D. - Going back to school as a non-traditional student can be scary, especially when your career has been established and you have a husband and a three-year-old son at home. This fall, Beth LaDue, 29, added "student" back to her resume when she enrolled at Williston State College (WSC), after discovering last year she was eligible for the Williams Country Graduate (WCG) Scholarship.
The opportunity the Alva J. Field trust, the North Dakota Challenge Fund, and the Williston State College Foundation provides is unprecedented. Each student, no matter what graduation year, can return or attend school free of charge.
After graduating from Williston High School in 2004, LaDue moved to Bismarck to begin college at University of Mary. Upon completing her nursing degree in 2008, LaDue returned to the Williston area to start her family and begin her career as a labor and delivery nurse in Williston.
"I love the human body," LaDue stated. "I knew when my sister had a baby when I was eighteen that I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse."
Though she loved the work and her patients, twelve and sometimes fourteen to sixteen-hour shifts, coupled with finding childcare when her husband works on call, became a scheduling headache for LaDue and her family.
"My husband, Jeremiah and I were discussing options: Do I cut back on shifts? Quit all together? We were trying to assess all our possibilities," LaDue explained. "Then I saw an ad in the Williston Herald about the WCG Scholarship. I immediately thought of the massage therapy program, and we started discussing if I should test the waters of going back to school."
LaDue discussed her options with Kaylyn Bondy, Vice President of Student Affairs. "She was a perfect match for me to answer all of my questions," LaDue explained. "She sat me down and patiently worked with me and my transcripts. I got a little overwhelmed initially, thinking there would be a lot of credits, and I was nervous I would not be able to handle that schedule with my family."
After working with Bondy and Wendy McGinley, Massage Therapy Associate Professor, LaDue discovered that a lot of her credits from University of Mary would transfer, and that a two-year program would now only take LaDue a year to complete.
"Understanding exactly how credits transfer to another college is vital to a transfer student's success," Bondy explained. "Working with transfer students to see how previous work fits with current goals and program requirements is a truly rewarding process and helps students understand what courses are required for completion. I am happy to have help Beth accomplish her goals for the classroom and her family."
Completing her first finals week in over seven years, LaDue has one more semester to finish before she achieves her associate's degree in massage therapy, and she is grateful to the WCG Scholarship for allowing her to return to school in a field she can use both with her current career and at home.
"My son, Easton, was born early and has cerebral palsy, which is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, and posture. Having this degree in massage therapy is more than an asset to help our schedules; it is something I can personally do to help my son," LaDue said. "This scholarship gave me the solution to my career that I had been dreaming about. An opportunity to stay in the field that I love, have better hours, be there for my family, and help my son. Achieving this degree with no cost to my family is a huge asset for our happiness, and we are forever grateful for the opportunity."
On average each student who has received the WCG Scholarship has already saved $2,817.69 in tuition and fees and $638 in books for the Fall 2015 semester. The overall dollar amount awarded for the WCG Scholarship totaled $1,229,119 as of official fall census day, September 22, 2015. Beth is one of the 344 students who were awarded this wonderful scholarship.
"I am so glad I decided to pursue this degree. I would have not done it had it not been for the WCG Scholarship," LaDue concluded. "This is a wonderful opportunity for people in the area who are ready for change, people who have been in the same career for a while and are thinking about change. It is a free education, so nothing should hold you back."
LaDue currently is working part time to keep her RN license active as she completes her degree at WSC. She hopes to continue something similar when she obtains her degree and hopes to start her own business in massage therapy. "Massage therapy is a great complementary degree for nursing," explained McGinley. "Having Beth in class as a non-traditional student and a nurse is a huge asset to our other students. She provides a wealth of knowledge and different perspectives for our younger students to think about. I know she will be successful just by how hard she works in class."
The WCG Scholarship will continue as long as revenue and earnings continue. Now, thanks to the North Dakota Challenge Fund, your money will go further. For every two dollars you donate, the North Dakota Challenge Fund will contribute one dollar. For anyone interested in contributing to the WCG Scholarship, please contact the Williston State College Foundation at 701.572.9275.
For more information about the WCG Scholarship please contact WSC at 701.774.4220
For any information regarding WSC, please visit www.willistonstate.edu, call 1.888.863.9455,
or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.