Your Success Begins Here
First-generation College Student Changes Direction of Family Tree
Twelve years ago, Lynette Leidner wouldn’t have dreamed she’d be where she is today.
A 30-year-old single mom, she had a high school diploma and a decent job, but long hours at work ate up time she could be spending with her 5-year-old daughter. No one in her family had completed college, and Leidner felt destined for the same outcome.
“I knew my options were limited, which in turn meant that what I would be able to provide for my daughter as she grew up would be limited as well,” she said.
That scenario didn’t sit well with Leidner.
So, with a lot of encouragement from family and friends, she began a higher education journey that most recently landed her the prestigious honor of Banner Carrier at the OU Extended Campus Winter 2017 Convocation. There, she received her Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership (MAAL).
Graduate School Keeps Mom Moving Forward Following Son’s Death
When Jamie Foster-Hale walked across the stage May 13, 2017, to receive her master’s degree in criminal justice from the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies, it was bittersweet. Although a celebration of her accomplishments, it was also a reminder of the pain she suffered along the way.
During Foster-Hale’s first semester of graduate school, her 21-year-old son, Erric Monroe, was tragically murdered by his best friend during a house party in Moore, Oklahoma. Despite her grief, Foster-Hale stayed in school and finished the semester with a 3.5 GPA.
Foster-Hale said while she had taken time off from work, staying in school helped keep her focused on something other than the emptiness she was feeling without her son.
“At first, I think that I continued out of habit. I just had to keep going, and my school work was the only normalization that I had in my life at that point,” she said. “I tried to conduct myself with as much dignity as I could because I knew Erric would have expected that of me. I knew how proud he was that I always found a way to persevere.”
Museum Studies Graduate Fosters Friendship Through Comm(Unity) Day
When a Bellevue, Wash., mosque was partially destroyed by arson in January 2017, OU graduate Devin Leatherman was moved by the actions of some close family friends.
About 1,000 Muslims who pray at the Islamic Center of Eastside were displaced when the fire destroyed half of the mosque. To show comfort and love to families affected, Leatherman’s friends helped their two young daughters set up a Teddy bear drive.
“Their act got me thinking, ‘What can I do?’ I don’t have Teddy bears, but I have a whole children’s museum,” said Leatherman.
Leatherman, who earned a Master of Arts in Museum Studies in May 2017, works at the Seattle Children’s Museum as lead educator and exhibits development manager. With active citizenship in mind, she pitched a plan to museum directors to host a free day at the museum for the community’s Muslim and refugee community members.
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