Adrienne Stiger: Shares her nontraditional journey to a Parkside degree

Published: July 25, 2022

Adrienne StigerAdrienne Stiger recently graduated from UW-Parkside with a degree in communication with certificates in conflict analysis and resolution and world wide web publishing. As a non-traditional student, Stiger has been dreaming of completing her degree for 42 years. She brought a wealth of experience and perspective to her peers that were 30-to-40 years younger than her.

Tell us about your journey to UW-Parkside and why you ultimately started taking classes here?              

I moved to Kenosha from Zion, Illinois, and was on a hiatus from continuing my education at College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. I’ve always been focused on obtaining my degree. From my first meeting at UW-Parkside, the wonderful staff was incredibly supportive of a prospective student achieving their goals. UW-Parkside put my long-standing goals first. I figured if this was the initial meeting and orientation experience, the professors must be as incredible or better.

"Keep focused on your goal and know that with each course you complete, you become that much closer to reaching your goal. Never lose faith or sight of your investment in yourself." -Adrienne Stiger

Your story is one of perseverance and you serve as a great example for many women. What advice do you have for anyone considering returning to school to complete their degree or beginning school as a non-traditional student?

It was a culture shock, that’s for sure. My fellow classmates were young enough to be my children or grandchildren. My advice is to meet one or two classmates in each course. You will be amazed how much you have in common, despite the age difference. I hope I have encouraged young students to go home and encourage their parents and treat them with respect.

Keep focused on your goal and know that with each course you complete, you become that much closer to reaching your goal. Never lose faith or sight of your investment in yourself.

What was your favorite UW-Parkside experience or class and why?

The professors are accessible, easy to contact, open to discussion and actively ask us to point out problems for them. All of my professors were always willing to go above and beyond to help me understand and grasp concepts. As a non-traditional student, this meant the world to me. I had never had this much one-on-one help and attention in any of my education as a child up to this point.

How do you feel that UW-Parkside prepared you for the next step of building your small business and career?

Ade’s Kites is a mobile retail kite business. I applied for interest-free financing with a program named Kiva. I learned about this opportunity from the Small Business Development Center at UW-Parkside. I know the skills that I learned through my classes at Parkside prepared me to be a business owner, a great communicator in information technology, a web designer, and a strong female leader. My ultimate career goal is to obtain gainful employment in the IT and web development field and continue to enhance my small business.

You enjoy helping others. Can you share some of the ways you volunteer to make our community a better place?

I serve as a board member SER-NATIONAL: Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). SER-National is a program for seniors 55 years and up, homeless, disabled, and veterans. This program is an assistance aid in helping individuals get back into the workforce. This is achieved by either a placement with a local non-profit and performing job-like duties in an area of interest the participant requested and/or returning to school to obtain the education needed to enhance their employability. There are a lot of great programs to assist a person with self-development in their areas of interest.

As a recipient of the Future Focus Fund Scholarship, can you share how the scholarship was instrumental in helping you continue your UW-Parkside education and reach your goals?

The Future Focus Fund Scholarship was a lifesaver for me. I was so close to graduation that I could hear the commencement entry music and refused to stop. I started making payments until it reached the point of choosing to pay my rent, buy my much-needed medications, or just put my education on hold again. When I found out, that I had received the Future Focus Fund Scholarship, it was incredible. I just broke down and cried. A huge weight had been lifted off of me.

While many UW-Parkside students are considered nontraditional college students, your story is especially unique. How does your family inspire you?

I have dreamed of completing my education for 42 years, and my children and grandchildren are very proud of my hard work, persistence, and achievement. My family motivates me. I wanted to continue my studies to show my grandchildren that yes, it is a huge and demanding struggle, but it can be done. I have to do well, so I can be an inspiration for them.

As UW-Parkside’s student emergency fund, the Future Focus Fund has helped nearly 400 students continue their education and achieve their goals through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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