Adult Students Capture Noteworthy Scholarships

September 17, 2008

Adult Students Capture Noteworthy Scholarships Three of Saint Leo's adult learners, students with dissimilar backgrounds preparing for differing fields, all share a common achievement this semester. Each has been honored with a scholarship for this year in recognition of her notable academic accomplishment.

An International Story: Nataly Ko

Nataly Ko, age 38, is studying for a second career in accounting at the university's main campus. Although she was previously educated as an engineer in her youth in Russia, much of her adult working life was spent in business in Korea. She realized her interest in math and logic made accounting a good fit, and enrolled here after she and her husband moved to Florida.

Her work this year will get a boost from one of four highly competitive, $3,000 academic scholarships awarded to accounting students in the area by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. "Nataly is really a fantastic student," said Dan Braswell, an associate professor who nominated her for the award. "She has a 3.9+ grade point average and is always helping other members of any class she takes. She makes it her policy, however, to help only those who are willing to try to learn and not just those who want homework answers."

Ko plans to graduate in 2010. She will study for the professional exam for the Certified Public Accountant designation after that. "If everything goes well, she said, "I hope to become a CPA in 2011-2012."

Alfie Lopez

Church Service: Alfie Lopez

Adlefa "Alfie" Lopez has already worked for the Catholic Church, in one capacity or another, for 28 years. She currently works as a pastoral associate at the Church of the Holy Family in Virginia Beach, Va., and, as a single mother of four children, still has one in high school.

She loves spending vacation time at Catholic work camps where she says young people can learn "the joys and blessings to be had from hard work and serving others" – a lesson she learned growing up in Texas as the daughter of migrant farm workers.

And yet, she sees more than she can do. As a student at Saint Leo's South Hampton Roads Center, she is working on a bachelor's degree in religion so that she can help fill the leadership void that is occurring as the population in religious orders declines. "We lay ministers need to be more aware of the Church's teachings. We have to have that, because we are the ones who will be passing them along in the future."

Impressed by her dedication and sound grades, Saint Leo administrators awarded Lopez the annual $1,000 scholarship named for Father George Paulson, who taught religious studies in Virginia for Saint Leo for years. The money will help Lopez with junior year expenses.

Once she completes her BA, she wants to continue and earn a master's in theology from Saint Leo. "This is not the last you've heard of me," she promised.

Military Helping Military: Hollie Jack

Hollie Jack has been a Navy wife for almost 14 years, and was a stay-at-home mom for much of that time. When she decided to go back to school, she attended and graduated from a community college, and then sought to transfer to a four-year institution.

She seemed to flourish right away at Saint Leo, where she is now a senior studying for a bachelor's in accounting and management at the South Hampton Roads Center. Additionally, she has come to work in our Little Creek office where she helps service members and their families.

With a grade point average over 3.9, Jack well fit the qualifications for the annual $1,000 Jack Callan Scholarship award. It is given to a student who is a spouse of a military member, who has advanced to junior standing, has a 3.0 average or above.

It is named for the late U.S. Navy veteran Jack Callan who helped Saint Leo open on military installations in Virginia to educate active members of the military. And his vision went beyond that: he wanted to help the spouses of active duty service personnel achieve an education, too.

Hollie Jack said she understands that vision and wants to continue it. "I love it here. Eventually, I'd like to be an adviser here."