The Amarillo Pioneer

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WTAMU Program Helps Former Students Graduate

"Sometimes life just gets in the way and the best-laid plans for a college degree often take a backseat to everything from work to family. But West Texas A&M University’s new “It’s Never Too Late” (INTL) program is putting former WTAMU students on the right track to earning that long awaited degree.

The new program was introduced in late July, and three former students have already graduated. Sarah Weidling Bledsoe, Richard Howard and Melissa Ferguson have all become August graduates, thanks to INTL. The program is designed especially for former students like these, who have completed at least 90 college hours and attended WTAMU in the last 10 years.

In 2010, Weidling Bledsoe, who now resides in Broken Arrow, Okla., was just 12 hours away from a degree and 16 hours away from a double bachelor’s degree. But life got in the way, and she left school for work and love. When she received an email in July about INTL, she immediately contacted WTAMU about getting back on track toward her degree.

“They looked at my records, and I found out I had enough hours for a general studies degree or I could take 18 hours more for a degree in management,” she said. “I knew from my work experience and talking to others that a general studies degree would work. It’s a wonderful blessing—it’s an amazing thing WT has done for me. I’m very excited.”

Howard, who lives in Mineola, echoes Weidling Bledsoe’s sentiments. He last attended WTAMU in 1997, one class short of a degree. Again, life circumstances played a role in the reason Howard didn’t graduate.

“I already had a job and didn’t want to come back,” he said.

He had always planned to take that remaining class at one of the colleges close to home, but again, life just got in the way. When he called to see if he qualified for INTL, advisers in the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences gave him the best news ever. Howard discovered the one course he needed to graduate had since been dropped from the degree plan, and he had enough advanced classes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

Although distance kept him from walking across the stage at the Aug. 18 commencement at WTAMU, Howard expressed his excitement at finally being a WTAMU graduate after 10 years and said, “it’s very good, very good.”

Ferguson, who lives in Sunray, returned to WTAMU in June to take classes during summer session I. She also is an August graduate with a bachelor’s degree in general studies.

The INTL program has resonated with several former students. According to Trish McCormick in WTAMU’s advising services, six former students have already applied for December graduation and more applications are expected. The fall semester begins Aug. 28, and 55 former students have registered for classes and 79 have applied to return for the fall term. The 2018 spring semester already has 20 applications from former students taking advantage of the INTL program. More are expected.

When the University introduced the INTL program this summer, more than 1,000 former students were identified as having completed a majority of their coursework but had never graduated.

“We want to help them realize their dream of earning a degree,” Dr. Walter V. Wendler, University president, said. “The program is a flexible path to graduation, and we are proud to see our first INTL graduates already.

For more information about the INTL program, contact Trish McCormick in advising services at 806-651-5300 or"

-West Texas A&M University


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