Devereaux ’09, pursued a dual degree in education during her time at UW Oshkosh, earning a scholarship along the way.
“I wanted to create a scholarship for someone who was a high achiever,” said Devereaux, who came to UW Oshkosh as a nontraditional student eager to pursue a second degree in 2003.
Throughout her time as a student, she excelled—earned good grades and progressed through the major appropriately but ultimately could not be recognized with golden cords at her commencement ceremony due to the deeply rooted traditions that come with graduating with honors. Too many of her credits were from a different university.
Before her days at UW Oshkosh, Devereaux had obtained a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and spent many years working in the hotel restaurant management industry. Now, she is a special education teacher at Appleton North High School.
In her last semester at UW Oshkosh, Devereaux developed the Lifelong Learner Scholarship for Academic Excellence as a way to recognize the challenges of high-achieving nontraditional students—such as herself. It is open to students in all areas of study.
“I wanted to figure out a way to recognize people who went to school someplace else and then decided to return as a student and did really well,” she said.
After many years working up and through a career in the airline industry, Gijsen enrolled at UW Oshkosh and participated in the Credit for Prior Learning program. He began his studies in 2010 and graduated two years later with a bachelor’s degree in organizational administration. Now, he is the director of facilities management at ThedaCare.
“I had a 4.0 GPA and learned of the Lifelong Learner Scholarship through an email and thought it was worthwhile to apply,” he said. “When I received the scholarship, it provided me with an exceptional sense of fulfillment and recognition.”
“The amount of money didn’t make or break or change my career path. It wasn’t financial motivation for me. However, as far as intrinsic value, it was worth way more than the dollar amount,” Gijsen said.
Gijsen is one of six recipients—all with varying backgrounds and degrees—to earn the recognition, since the scholarship was developed in 2009.
“This scholarship is really about a way to be acknowledged at the university level—in front of other people—no matter your age or background,” Devereaux said. “There are a lot of people out there who work hard and do great things and may not be recognized on paper or through a test, but they are cool, kind people who make others feel good and they deserve the recognition.”