Lisa Anderson has reached a milestone in her educational journey.
The nontraditional student will graduate this spring from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Marshfield with a Bachelor of Applied Sciences and Arts degree and has already been accepted as a part-time student in the university's new Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, which begins this fall.
Anderson joins more than 50 graduates participating in commencement ceremonies at UW-Stevens Point at Marshfield at 6 p.m. Friday, May 17, in the Helen Laird Theater, 2000 W. 5th St., Marshfield.
When she stepped on the Marshfield campus for the fall 2012 semester as a part-time student, Anderson wasn't sure where her educational journey was headed or if she'd fit in.
"It was something new and scary," said Anderson, who entered the workforce after graduating from Marshfield High School and didn't start thinking about college until 10 years later. "Once I started, I was surprised to learn there were a lot of nontraditional students here, which helped ease my fears.
"When I first got here, I really focused on improving my writing," said Anderson, who will graduate with 4.0 GPA.
While many enjoy the convenience of online learning, Anderson preferred face-to-face instruction. "Being in a classroom gives me the chance to ask questions. I feel like I'm learning more."
Anderson also balanced the challenges of working two jobs while completing her degree. She has worked more than 10 years at Mason Companies, formerly Figi's, where she is team leader in the call center. She also is starting her fifth year as the part-time treasurer for the town of Rock in western Wood County.
Self-discipline and time management skills have served Anderson well during college. She became a full-time student in spring 2018, in addition to more than full-time work. "I picked up the pace (of my education) as I became more comfortable with college life."
Anderson was required to complete a capstone project as part of her bachelor's degree. She volunteered to lead a community awareness project for the Marshfield Area United Way, promoting the nonprofit organization's 2-1-1 Helpline.
Anderson worked closely with United Way staff to create and distribute 2-1-1 posters, developed a Facebook campaign and promoted 2-1-1 on a local radio program. Two months after the campaign began, phone calls to the United Way's resources number increased more than 85 percent.
Ashley Winch, executive director at the Marshfield Area United Way, witnessed Anderson's initiative and determination.
"Lisa is an extremely hard-working individual and has been a great asset for us at the United Way," said Winch. "She is not only committed to her coursework, but she genuinely cares for our community. The work she did for us on the 2-1-1 awareness project offered hope and help to individuals looking for resources."
Anderson appreciated the encouragement and support of others, including UW-Stevens Point at Marshfield faculty and staff.
"The journey has been long and rough at times, but I finally made it to graduation day," said Anderson. "I am grateful for all of the support of professors, mentors and my best friend in helping me reach my dream of getting a bachelor's degree. Anyone can do it if you have the right support system."
Her next goal is to earn an advanced degree through UW-Stevens Point's new MBA program. "I have a love for numbers in creating financial reports, but I also love working in other areas of a business, such as training and development, coaching employees, scheduling and keeping morale high, which in turn boosts productivity and communication in an organization," Anderson noted. "I'm confident an MBA will help me master those skills and more."