Outstanding Evening and Online Alumni Spotlights
Ida Houck always knew she wanted to work in the criminal justice field. She just didn't know where to start. When her pursuit of a business degree at a nearby state university left her dissatisfied, her husband, a law enforcement officer himself, suggested she switch to a law-related degree.
She diligently research her options and kept coming back to Drury University's online paralegal program. Drury's came highly recommended by her husband and friends. It didn't hurt that Drury's program is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by various college rankings companies.
With a full-time job and a seven-year-old son, Houck also liked the fact that the program is offered 100% online, as to fit around her busy schedule.
"I really liked the online program," she says. "It didn't set me back at all, and actually, it worked better with my schedule."
Houck says her instructors and advisor made sure she was succeeding in the program and that she was satisfied with her education.
"The [instructors] are there for you through every single step," she says. "They really care about you."
Loretta Mask graduated from Drury University in St. Robert in May 2017. It’s a major achievement for most, but when Mask walked across the stage at the O’Reilly Family Event Center and received her bachelor’s degree in General Studies, the moment was even more monumental.
After transferring from two previous universities, attending school on and off for more than 20 years and overcoming a serious health scare that debilitated her for two semesters while at Drury, Mask finally realized her dream of graduating from college in May. Actually, it’s only part of the dream. Mask plans to continue her studies in one of Drury’s Master in Education programs and one day soon, teach high school history.
Mask was initially apprehensive about going back to school, but Drury’s advisors and instructors in St. Robert allayed any fears she had. “I went and spoke to Ms. Donna and just felt right at home,” Mask says now in regard to Donna King, coordinator of the business office in St. Robert.
That hominess extended from the business office to the classroom, where Mask says her instructors gave her the personal attention she desired.
“Any time you start something new, you’re nervous,” Mask says. “But the professors were amazing. They calmed my fears. They worked with me when I wasn’t sure. That’s one thing I like about being here. All of the professors are very personal. If you see them out on the street, you can say, ‘Hi.’ If you have a question about your class, they’re going to answer you no matter what – by email, phone, any way they can.”
Mask began her studies at Drury in fall 2014. She excelled in the classroom her first three semesters at the university, making the dean’s list and carrying at 4.0 GPA into the spring 2016 semester. Then, on May 3, 2016, everything changed. Mask received a call from her doctor. On a routine checkup, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “Total shock,” Mask says now recalling the phone call. “Whenever you hear the word ‘cancer,’ you think, ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to die.’ And then you think, ‘I can’t. I’ve got kids. I’ve got a family.’”
Molly Erickson's life and career outlook improved dramatically upon graduating from Drury University's evening program in Springfield. Now, she improves the lives of others as Senior Director of Public Relations at Convoy of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit on a mission to feed the world.
Janis Dickerman has used her nursing skills to better the lives of those less fortunate from Missouri to Macau, with help from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Drury University at Fort Leonard Wood.
Dickerman and her late husband were missionaries in Macau, an automonous region on the south coast of China, for 20 years. While there, they started a medical clinic, then branched out with satellite clinics and home nursing visits. When China opened its borders to foreigners in the late 1970s, Dickerman and her husband traveled north into the massive, mysterious, once-isolated country.
"It was an exciting time," says Dickerman.
The Chinese people had been subjected to extreme hardships under the rule of Mao Zedong and his Communist Party of China, including the Great Chinese famine. Dickerman and her husband were eager to help the people rebuild.
“We really wanted to work with the Chinese people,” Dickerman says.
Their missionary work was done through the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. It was on a one-year furlough from this work that Dickerman decided to go back to school and get her nursing degree. She had gone to nursing school straight out of high school and received her nursing certification, but she wanted to further her career and complete her degree program. Since she and her husband were furloughed in Rolla, Missouri, she weighed her options locally and decided on Drury’s Fort Leonard Wood campus.
She transferred her nursing school credits to Drury and completed her degree program by the end of her furlough. She says her year on furlough was the perfect time to go back, and that she picked the perfect program to complete her degree.
"It was an excellent time for me to go back [to school], without all the distractions I had at a younger age," Dickerman says.
As a full-time worker for CHN Industrial Reman, Michelle Jenkins had concerns about finding time to go back to school and earn a bachelor’s degree. However, with the help of Drury’s evening and online program, she was able to balance school, work, and family life.
Jenkins saw positive results almost immediately after enrolling in Drury’s business administration program.
“Just by getting accepted to Drury and starting classes, my supervisor contacted me because she heard I was going to college and furthering my career,” Jenkins said. “I’ve learned so much more business-wise and it’s helped me make a bigger impact in my company.”
In addition to growing in skills and knowledge about the business industry, Jenkins now has a succession plan in place. She is currently in the process of training for her direct supervisor’s job in the hopes that she will be able to move up on the company ladder.
“I believe that our program is the best in Springfield. I’m so thankful for the company I work for and how they want to see everyone excel in any way,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins stressed the importance of going to school to learn, not simply to hold a diploma in her hands.
“When I come to college and I have class, I want to learn,” Jenkins said. “If I’m going to spend the money and put in the effort, I want to learn.”
Through her dedication to her studies, Jenkins has been offered more responsibilities with her current job simply by showing that she is committed to learning.
“[The company] knows what I want to do and I know what I want to do,” Jenkins said. “If [earning a degree] is what I have to do to get where I want to be, I’m going to do it.”
Melissa Woodward always knew she wanted to be a nurse. It's just that life always seemed to get in the way. When Drury opened its branch campus in Monett, Melissa jumped at the opportunity to get her Bachelor's of Science in Psychology. Now, she's living her dream of helping others as a registered nurse in the Joplin area.