Higher Education is a Family Affair, By Kandice Cummings ’06

William Woods University is a family affair for the Smiths of Jefferson City. Pat Smith; her husband, Rance, and daughter, Nickie, have all found success in the many educational opportunities the institution provides.


Pat Smith is a personnel analyst II for the Missouri State Department of Natural Resources. She will receive her master of business administration from WWU during commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 12.


Previously, she worked as an executive staff assistant at the University of Missouri. She had no college experience when she decided to pursue an education in order to achieve self-fulfillment and career development.


Smith, like many others, took an interest in the WWU program after hearing of its prominent reputation and high standard of excellence.


“I had heard that William Woods had an excellent graduate studies program that allowed adults to complete their education while maintaining a full-time job,” says Smith.


She spoke with Theresa Verslues, a recruitment representative for the Graduate and Adult Studies Program. Verslues provided Smith with the additional information she needed to make her decision and, at Smith’s suggestion, she also set up a cohort for the “Access” program.


Access was developed specifically for students with no prior college experience, but unlike other graduate and adult studies programs, it had not utilized the cohort system. A cohort is a cohesive group of students that begins and progresses through the program together.


“I found this to be great customer service and I was very impressed with the university’s ability to work with the needs of their students,” Smith stated.


She enrolled in the undergraduate studies program at William Woods University in the fall of 1998, and received her bachelor of science in management degree in May of 2001. Six months later, she earned her professional human resource certification, and in April of 2002, she began the master of business administration (MBA) program.


Smith also convinced her husband to enroll at William Woods to pursue his bachelor’s degree, which he received in 2000. He, like his wife, is now enrolled in the MBA program.


Their daughter Nickie is a junior majoring in advertising in the traditional campus program in Fulton. Their older daughter, Amy, 23, graduated from Lincoln University and works for the Girl Scout Council.


Both admire the fact that their parents took the time to better themselves by obtaining further education.


Pat and Rance agree that William Woods offers an accelerated program that requires a bit of time management, and both admit that it can get stressful at times.


Overall, Smith states that she was and continues to be impressed with the knowledge and expertise of her professors, as well as the team environment that she experiences through the program.


“The program really helped to open doors for me and gave me a challenging and fun environment to learn in. I am set to graduate in December and I am excited to see what new opportunities will arise.”


Verslues said that the Smiths “are a perfect example of the program’s mission to meet the needs of those students who are already attempting to balance a family and a full-time job.”