Sandi Lyn Bunch is the 2014 recipient of the Debra M. Livingston Outstanding Adult Student Award. Sandi will graduate May 10 with her Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
She currently is a Plans Analyst for the Army Sustainment Command at the Rock Island Arsenal. The award will be presented to Sandi May 9 at the ACCELebration event.
Sandi was nominated for this award by one of her instructors, Dr. Art Pitz, who said, "For me, she is a sterling example of why the ACCEL program exists. The program offers a superb structured opportunity for individuals like her to achieve their dreams. With help from advisors like Jen Aplington, [ACCEL] students wind up accomplishing their goals."
The essay Sandi submitted for the award is featured below. Please join us in congratulating one of our newest St. Ambrose University alums!
I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. My education has been a long and challenging path, but I will finally finish with my Bachelor's degree in Business Administration in May of 2014.
I will be a first generation college graduate, and I have always been determined to never let anything hold me back. In my adult life, I have experienced war and love. I have had many great failures, and learned many lessons; I have also seen what hard work and willpower will do for someone and have accomplished feats beyond my wildest imagination.
By the age of 27 I had completed a 4-year Marine Corps enlistment, married, birthed a beautiful daughter, divorced, lost my home, and was raising my child in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, on a $10.50/hour job. That was rock bottom for me; I remember vividly doing my laundry in the sink because I didn't have the money to afford going to a laundromat for the week. I made the decision that I did not want that kind of life for myself or my daughter; I wanted to set the example that this is America – we are all accountable for our own destiny.
Fast-forward a few years, present time. As I turned thirty-one last month, I reflected on how my life has changed since that darker time. Back in those days, in order to change my life, I spent countless hours updating my resume, continuously seeking a better job, and I read self-improvement books (in fact, I still do). I am now fortunate enough to say that I am in a great job that I love, where I am surrounded by many mentors. I have since moved from my tiny apartment into a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house in LeClaire that I contracted to be built myself. I have continuously pursued my education by taking night and weekend classes since my enlistment. I have worked hard, and have finally seen my hard work pay off. However, my hard work has not ended – as far as I'm concerned, it has only just begun.
If I could describe my character, I would say that I have a "no excuses" mentality. I expect the best from myself, nothing less. This doesn't mean that I have to be the best at everything; I just have to go to sleep at night knowing that I did my duties to the best of my ability. I wasn't always like this, and I have a confession to make; I had such a poor grade point average that I barely graduated high school--you could say I'm a recovered self-saboteur. Since then, I have learned how to focus properly, study, and felt a sense of accomplishment when I finished projects, papers, and earned good scores on tests!
Upon completion of my undergraduate degree I intend to pursue a Master of Business Administration. I carried a heavy workload in school in order to graduate by May 2014, which is a full year sooner than my anticipated completion date. Being raised by a single dad who is a painter, he never wanted us to have the future of years of hard labor with no retirement benefits.
I have lofty professional goals as well, and would love to be among the few Senior Executive Service members of our government (which is equivalent to the rank of a General Officer). I am a young mother, and by the time my daughter graduates high school, I will not even be at the halfway point in my professional career; I want to travel and learn about other cultures and governments.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the St. Ambrose ACCEL program and am proud to report that this is the first school I've ever attended where I made the Dean's list and was also awarded an ACCEL Scholarship last spring.
–Sandi Bunch '14
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