Wife and mother of five is 2011 Penn State Outstanding Adult Student

Kristen Ramsey commutes four hours round trip from her home in Mechanicsburg to Penn State's University Park campus for a kinesiology degree program

When her babysitter and family members aren't available, Kristen Ramsey packs crayons and coloring books with her textbooks and takes her five children ages 3 to 12 with her on the four-hour round trip drive from Mechanicsburg to classes at Penn State's University Park campus. Between caring for her children and her father who is ill, coaching gymnastics and serving as an elementary school volunteer, Ramsey is pursuing her dream of a Penn State degree. For her perseverance and dedication to her educational goal, Ramsey has been chosen the recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Adult Student Award.

The award recognizes an exceptional adult learner at University Park campus who has begun or resumed their education after the age of 24, after being out of high school for four or more years, and who demonstrates initiative in overcoming obstacles to furthering their education, while serving as a role model for other adult learners, achieving academic excellence and contributing to their community.

"As a mother of five children under the age of 12, Kristen certainly faces a unique set of challenges and obstacles each day," said Leslie A. Laing, coordinator of Adult Learner Programs, Division of Student Affairs, and organizer of the annual adult learner recognition program. "It is my pleasure to honor Kristen as she completes her education, serves as a role model to her children and strives to improve the community at large. Her energy, passion and focus are intoxicating."

During the award ceremony, Martha Jordan, director of Admission Services and Adult Learner Advocacy, told award nominees: "You all have people who believe in you and have helped you to realize your dream of an education. Their support is vital to your success."

That's true for Ramsey, 34, who relies on her husband Harley and her parents for help with Chance, 12; Mac, 10; Rainie, 8; Killian, 5; and Rorie, 3. "My family is incredibly helpful, and I have very mature children, who understand the importance of what I am doing," she said. When she has had to bring her children to campus with her, they have quietly colored with crayons and read books. "My professors have been very accommodating," she said.

Ramsey began her Penn State education after high school. She married and when health issues developed during her first pregnancy, she had to drop out in 1998. "I always knew I would go back. I love Penn State." Eleven years later, she enrolled in kinesiology. She plans to become a physical education teacher. She started with online courses in 2009 and since then has combined online and on-campus courses.

Her biggest challenge is scheduling, she said. She juggles multiple calendars and children's activities with classes. One thing that has helped is tape-recording class lectures, so she can listen to them again while driving home. Ramsey has been on the Dean's List the last three semesters. She will do her student teaching and graduate in spring 2012.

As part of the Outstanding Adult Student Award program, Ramsey received a Penn State diploma case and a $500 grant from the Penn State Adult Learner Opportunity Fund. Laing created the fund "to recognize exemplary adult students like Kristen, because education is the key to improving Pennsylvania and remaining competitive in today's global market." To contribute to the fund, visit https://secure.ddar.psu.edu/GiveTo/ and in the drop down box enter "XXTOF Adult Learner Opportunity Fund."

Division of Student Affairs Adult Learner Programs provides comprehensive services for nontraditional undergraduate students that complement learners' academic, personal and career goals. For more information, visit http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/adults online.

Admission Services and Adult Learner Advocacy is dedicated to extending and enhancing services to Penn State adult students. For more information, visit http://www.outreach.psu.edu/adult-learners/ online. This unit is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education, which serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated April 19, 2011