Whitewater celebrates nontraditional students

Danny Grisanzio, Assistant News Editor

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Monday, Nov. 4 marks the start of National Nontraditional Student Week. This event happens annually and originated under The Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (ANTSHE).

Lynn Smith, the adult student service coordinator, organized a weeklong series of events in an attempt to spread nontraditional student awareness. These events include free family pool and bowling all week, a Breakfast Chat on “Motivational Monday” and “Food for Families Friday” where families bring collected food to the UW-Whitewater pantry.

 An event students and staff are especially excited for is the award ceremony and reception on “Throwback Thursday.” The event promises to “celebrate the extraordinary efforts and achievements of returning students and faculty,” and recognizes outstanding nontraditional students, as well as staff members who provide support and encouragement to nontraditional students.

Crystal Fox was nominated to the exclusive group of inductees due to her ability to balance her schedule as a single parent, student and employee.

“Crystal is one of those students who makes a class richer and more rewarding for the other students, as well as for the faculty member,” said Kelly Delaney-Klinger, Ph.D. and nominator.

Fox is a single mother of two, who balances two part time jobs, as well as interning three times a week at a supply company in the HR department. She is studying human resource management and is also the Community Relations Director for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Fox says balancing her children’s schedules is one of the biggest challenges she faces as a nontraditional student. A typical day consists of getting her kids ready, to school, then attending school herself. Once Fox can go back home, she takes care of the kids, feeds them, puts them to bed, cleans, then starts her homework.

This may seem abnormal to a traditional student, but nontraditional students often experience similar situations. Jason Coles, another nominee, juggles a busy household with 3 daughters while maintaining a 3.6 cumulative GPA. Mirna Veronica Fernandez Saldana, a future teacher, deals with a long commute, multiple jobs, and raising her young daughter as a single parent. Saldana was also a nominee for the outstanding nontraditional student award.

Because of students like Fox, Coles and Saldana, Smith looks to spread awareness to traditional students and faculty members in order to gain a better understanding of where nontraditional students come from.

“Traditional students can see nontraditional students as intimidating or difficult to work with,” said Smith. “Traditional students often don’t understand the obstacles a nontraditional student has to overcome.”

Smith hopes the Nontraditional Student week events can change how adult students are viewed as not only students on campus, but also good, hardworking individuals in other aspects of life.