Graduate student overcomes challenges to earn her degree

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Amanda Stone

Amanda Stone was determined to earn her master’s degree. Stone worked full time, gave birth to her first child, changed jobs twice, sold a home, and moved across state lines, all while earning her degree online in the Colorado State University Student Affairs in Higher Education program.

Stone is originally from California and currently lives in Oregon where she works at the University of Oregon as a financial aid counselor. The strength of the online SAHE program attracted her to CSU.

“I chose the SAHE program largely because of the curriculum and name recognition of this amazing program,” she said. “I was impressed by the practical application of the material and the requirement to produce a tangible portfolio of my work. I knew I wanted more than just a master’s degree on paper. I wanted to be a well-rounded and highly knowledgeable student affairs professional. The SAHE program at CSU did not disappoint.”

Perseverance through life challenges

Stone was able to persevere in spite of all of the life changes she faced while earning her degree. “I faced a lot of challenges related to time and stress management but found my participation in my courses so rewarding that I was encouraged to keep moving forward,” she said. “I took time off when I needed it but never let my dream of graduating waiver. I’d come too far!”

Stone said her confidence in and respect for the SAHE program did a lot to motivate her. “Once in the program, I was surrounded by professional faculty who not only taught, but lived and breathed student affairs,” she said. “The atmosphere is one of serious respect for the higher education profession and the purpose of student affairs within that profession. The faculty inspired me and encouraged me to be more than just a student and strive to be a scholar.”

‘Commitment to student access and success’

“Amanda’s profound humility coupled with her deep commitment to student access and success are evidenced in everything she does,” said Jody Donovan, CSU’s dean of students. “As one of her faculty members and a member of her committee, I was immediately drawn to her and captivated by her ability to articulate and apply her learning to her work with students.”

Mike Ellis, executive director of the Lory Student Center, served as Stone’s adviser. “She’s been phenomenal,” he said of Stone. “Her view of obstacles as brick walls to run through made it a pleasure for us to work with her.”

Stone also appreciated Ellis’s encouragement. “I would also give a shout out to my adviser who supported me in my moments of panic and reminded me how far I had come,” she said.

After graduation, Stone says that professionally, she will be looking for opportunities to apply her knowledge more deeply and take on a bigger role as a change agent. On a personal level, she will be checking off a bucket list item later this month when she stands atop Machu Picchu in Peru. She also enjoys writing children’s stories and hopes to have published her first of many children’s books by the end of 2018.

The Student Affairs in Higher Education program is part of the School of Education in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.