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Meester named UND's Nontraditional Student of the Year for 2015

by Carrie Sandstrom, University & Public Affairs student writer

Posted on 11/6/2015

Psychology undergrad is 36 and balances classes, school work and caring for three children while helping to run a household

Stacy Meester (left) is the winner of UND's Nontraditional Student of the Year Award for 2015. Stacy Meester (left) is the winner of UND's Nontraditional Student of the Year Award for 2015.

Stacy Meester is a senior at the University of North Dakota majoring in psychology.

Like most other seniors, she's looking forward to getting her degree, looking at graduate schools and preparing for a job in her field of choice. However, unlike most other seniors, Meester is 36 and has to balance classes and school work while caring for her three children and running a household in Fargo with her husband, Brandin.

Meester's dedication to her education and her journey to reach this point have earned her the recognition as the school's 2015 Nontraditional Student of the Year, which is awarded each year based on nominees' successful efforts of academic commitment, leadership and personal challenges they have overcome in pursuit of their academic goals. According to Jessica Rosencrans, UND's Veteran & Nontraditional Student Services Coordinator, UND defines a nontraditional student as "a student, age 25 or older, who may also have work, family, or other obligations while working on their undergraduate degree."

Meester, a native of Hillsboro, N.D., first enrolled in college when she was 17, but struggled in school and decided to take a few years away from college. Now 36 and preparing to graduate in the spring, Meester says getting her diploma feels like it's been a long time coming.

"When I was 17, I had absolutely no Idea what I was doing. I was doing it because I thought I had to, now I'm doing it because I want to," Meester said. "Here I am at 36 - this has been a long time coming for me to be able to walk across that stage."

After graduation, Meester plans to attend Minnesota State University-Moorhead as part of its School psychology program, which would give her a master's degree and specialty degree that would allow her to work as a school psychologist, something Meester has wanted to do for a long time.

"The main reason I'm following a career in psychology is because I have always been fascinated with why people do what they do," Meester said. "If we can determine why the child is behaving a certain way, then we can help them in the learning environment. I want to focus my energy on helping children develop a strong educational base, because I believe that education is the key to a successful life for any person."

Meester says she's particularly interested in working with elementary school students, in order to provide children with a solid foundation early on.

"Sometimes it's hard to look past (kids') behaviors and then they don't necessarily get the great education they should be," Meester said. "I feel like I can make more of a difference with a younger group - I'm only 5'2" so I feel like I kind of have a rapport with them."

While she wants to help students succeed in the classroom, Meester says her own children also have had a big impact on her life and how she handles her education. She says much of her dedication to her studies comes from her desire to be a positive role model for her children to succeed academically as well.

"I don't want (my kids) to ever feel like they can't do something," Meester said. "I want nothing more for my kids than to reach for the absolute stars ... Don't cut yourself short."

As she prepares to graduate and move to the next stage of her life, Meester has some advice for others who may be considering going back to school as well.

"It's never too late. If you want something, you work for that and you can make that possible," Meester said. "If you had told me 20 years ago that I could be a psychologist, I wouldn't have believed you."

Contact:

Jessica Rosencrans
Veteran & Nontraditional Student Services Coordinator
Student Success Center
University of North Dakota
P  701.777.2117 | F  701.777.3397
jessica.rosencrans@UND.edu

David L. Dodds
Media Relations Coordinator/Writer/Editor
Division of University & Public Affairs
O  701.777.5529 | D  701.777.2731
david.dodds@UND.edu | UND.upa@UND.edu


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