Global Campus Awards Scholarships to Seven Students Seeking Degrees Online

Manning Scholarship recipients
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Manning Scholarship recipients

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Global Campus named seven students to receive W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarships worth $2,000 each in the 2019-20 academic year. The Manning scholarship is open to U of A students studying in online degree programs.

Award recipients are:

  • Caitlin Bennett of Little Rock, studying in the master’s degree program in educational leadership in the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • Caleb J. Findley of Fayetteville, studying in the bachelor’s degree program in communication in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Rachel R. Holt of Huntsville, studying in the master’s degree program in adult and lifelong learning in the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • Fletcher T. Ryan of Colorado Springs, Colorado, studying in the master’s degree program in engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Bushra Salamah of Little Rock, studying in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing in the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • John M. Seidel of Bella Vista, studying in the master’s degree program in educational leadership in the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • Sommer Yount of Pine Bluff, a registered nurse working to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing in the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing in the College of Education and Health Professions.

The Global Campus scholarship committee selected recipients based on their financial need, academic merit or significant community service. Preference was given to first-generation higher education seekers and Arkansas residents. All seven recipients provided essays that described their qualifications.

Donald Judges, vice provost for distance education, congratulated the scholarship recipients in May. The Global Campus first awarded Manning Scholarships for online students in 2018.

“Online education helps students overcome the barriers of time, distance and life demands, and scholarships help lower the cost barrier,” Judges said. “This scholarship program began as a heart-felt gesture by co-workers and friends of William E. Manning Jr., a man who was passionate about serving students and continuing his own education.”

Co-workers and friends established the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship fund soon after Manning died in 1993. The Global Campus added funds to that account in the past three years, making seven scholarships available for the 2019-20 academic year.

At the time of his death, Manning was studying in a U of A doctoral program and managing independent study programs, a forerunner of today’s Self-Paced Online Courses. The U of A awarded a posthumous degree of Doctor of Education in adult education to Manning in May 2018.

Scholarship recipients

Caitlin Bennett, 24, completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2017 and then began the online master’s program in educational leadership. She said her ability to stay organized, manage her time, and balance academics and activities has served her well. She is looking forward to her final year in the program and completing her administrative internship beginning in the fall.

“This determination I have had over the years to do things without being told and to do them well has served me well in my pursuit of my master’s online,” Bennett said. “No one is there really telling me to pay attention in class or to do the readings, but I do because I care about my career and I love to learn.”

Bennett, a member of Phi Mu Fraternity, volunteered at the Action Center Literacy Program, the Boys and Girls Club, and U of A Make a Difference Day during her time on campus as an undergraduate. She hopes to one day continue to bring about this idea of volunteering and service in her school.

Caleb J. Findley, 31, a member of the Arkansas Air National Guard since 2008, said he did not know how to study or manage his time in 2006, when he started college with a scholarship. He lost his scholarship, joined the U.S. Air Force, and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2012.

“While there, I saw a lot of scary stuff and was part of some very intense situations, but I managed to make it through that deployment with my life,” Findley said. “I distinctly remember sitting in a bunker after a mortar attack, thinking, ‘Where would I be if I had taken college more seriously?’”

When he returned to the states, he entered the Air Force geospatial intelligence analyst school and learned productive study habits. Today, Findley is enrolled at the U of A and plans to finish his bachelor’s degree in communication in December 2019.

“I’ve worked 40 hours a week and maintained a 3.4 grade point average,” Findley said. “It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been fulfilling. It’s been three years of giving up weekends, but I appreciate being able to do it.”

Rachel R. Holt, 29, is pursuing master’s degrees in adult and lifelong learning and secondary education to help her gain future employment that will support her family and provide health care for her husband, a disabled combat veteran who served in Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Through my own education I plan to enhance the world by educating others,” Holt said. “It is my fiercest belief that education is the foundation on which all impactful innovations are constructed. I also unshakably believe that education is the avenue through which we can right societal wrongs and equalize the disparities that unduly disenfranchise one while enabling another.”

Holt said her career goals are to work as a high school English teacher and, later, to work as a public school administrator.

Fletcher T. Ryan, 25, an engineer and second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, said, “The U of A was an excellent opportunity for me. It’s online, it’s reputable, and it’s cost effective.”

While building his engineering skills through formal education, he boosted his interpersonal skills – compassion, understanding and investing in causes beyond himself – as a long-time health care volunteer.

“Volunteering is a large part of my life, and I have learned so much about people and about myself – things a formal education may not have been able to give me,” Ryan said. “Recently, I have started volunteering as a patient care ambassador, where I visit with patients and help transport them to appointments, assist staff, and help visitors navigate the hospital. … I have learned to be a better person because of it.”

Ryan said he feels connected with Manning, for whom the scholarship is named, because they share a passion for lifelong learning.

“It has been about giving the time I have and growing from my experiences with volunteering,” he said. “I feel I reflect some of the values (Manning) had. I was stoked when I found out I got the scholarship.”

Bushra Salamah, 26, is a registered nurse working in the emergency department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“I’ve been an ER nurse for about three years,” Salamah said. “Within a year, I knew I wanted to go back to school to get a DNP. I want to be there more for my patients.”

Salamah said RNs help patients follow doctors’ orders, but nurses who earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice can participate in the care plan for patients and help patients make medical decisions.

“DNPs have a stronger rapport with patients,” she said.

Salamah, the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, said she must balance work and study because she is the sole financial provider for herself and her fiancé, who is a medical student.

“(The scholarship) will help me so I do not have to work so much, so that I can focus more on my studies,” she said. “I genuinely enjoy working and challenging myself academically to increase my knowledge base.”

John M. Seidel, 39, is the father of five adopted children and the guardian of three foster children. He spent the last nine years teaching in a classroom, and now he is studying in the educational leadership program to qualify for a future educational administrative role.

“I would love to be a principal down the road,” he said. “I have some visions for public schools beyond the current curriculum. I would love to embed career objectives into a math class, just using real-world skills in the classroom.”

He is teaching math at Lincoln Junior High School in Bentonville, but he has applied for an assistant principal position.

“I teach skills that students need in order to have a better quality of life,” Seidel said. “Mathematics is one skill, but deeper imbedded is hidden curriculum and soft skills including problem solving, critical thinking, goal setting, and a sense of confidence.”

Seidel’s parents never attended college and struggled financially. He said he has been able to break that cycle by investing in education.

“While I’m grateful for the childhood my parents gave me and have no regrets because they worked tirelessly for me and my 11 siblings, education gave me perspective and the opportunity to live a better life,” Seidel said. “Through the EDLE grad program at the University of Arkansas, I’ve learned I can help more than just myself.

“The scholarship is helping to relieve the financial burden I would have had otherwise,” Seidel said.

Sommer Yount, 21, who began her nursing career in November 2018 as a registered nurse, is completing her bachelor’s degree online to enhance her ability to care for patients.

“As a nurse, I took an oath to ensure the safety of my patients and to make sure that they receive the best care possible,” Yount said. “This is why I want to continue my education by getting my B.S.N. from the University of Arkansas. I want to not only grow my educational background, but I also want to learn more about the health care needs of the patients that I serve in my community.

“(The scholarship) really means a lot,” Yount said. “It’s helping me work a full-time job and go back to school sooner than expected.”

Yount does not plan to stop once she earns a bachelor’s degree.

“My dream is to continue my education online with the U of A to get my master’s in nursing,” Yount said. “This would allow me to switch from the clinical area to the classroom, allowing me to teach future nurses the skills they need to serve their patients physically, spiritually and mentally.”

Learn more about U of A online students on the Student Experience page of the U of A ONLINE website, where online degree programs are showcased.

About the Global Campus: The Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


VIcki Martin, communications assistant
Global Campus


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