Outstanding Adult Student Award winners share passion for lifting others up

April 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kimisse King and Donna L. Butler recently received 2019 Outstanding Adult Student Awards (OASA). Both of their stories share a common thread: mastering a goal to give back by sharing their experiences to lift others up.

Kimisse King is a single mother of four boys and a survivor of domestic violence. She is majoring in rehabilitation and human services in the College of Education and works as a legal advocate and counselor, serving victims of dating and domestic violence at Centre Safe. King is a member of Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and the Pennsylvania Prison Society. She facilitates a weekly domestic violence and men’s sexual assault support group and plays a vital role in a human-trafficking awareness working group. Her goal is to become a licensed professional counselor to empower others to live a life free from abuse. In pursuit of her goals, King has worked minimum wage jobs to provide for her family, but said she knew she had to do something else.

2019 OASA recipeints Butler and King

Donna L. Butler, 2019 OASA recipient; Leslie Laing, director of Adult Learner Programs in Student Affairs at Penn State and Kimisse King, 2019 OASA recipient.

IMAGE: Janine Coutu

“It is not easy being a single parent raising four boys, working two to three jobs and going to school,” King said. “Raising my boys has given me the strength and the motivation. They empower me every day to keep going to achieve my goals. I couldn’t do it without them.”

She credits the support of her family and access to subsidized daycare for enabling her to work and take classes.

“When times were rough, I would tell myself that I have four boys that are looking up to me and I have to be a role model for them,” King said. “No matter what you go through, you can still be successful and achieve your goals. I started my educational journey in 2001, earned my associate’s degree in 2003 and now I am back to finish my bachelor’s degree.”

Donna L. Butler is the first Penn State World Campus student to receive an OASA.

“I decided to pursue my degree online after leaving a series of unfulfilling jobs,” Butler said. “I was determined to find my calling in life.”

Butler is working toward her degree in law and society from the College of the Liberal Arts through Penn State World Campus. She maintains a 3.98 GPA while assisting her peers with their success by developing programs they can use while pursuing their degree online. She has been consistently on the Dean’s List, serves as an intern in Interdisciplinary Degrees and as a magistrate to Penn State University Hall Chapter of the International Legal Honor Society.

“I have removed the word 'impossible' from my vocabulary,” Butler said. “I wake up every morning and say: Today I will put 100 percent of my ability and knowledge into everything I do.”

Butler has developed several online learning and outreach opportunities for her Penn State World Campus peers, including three interactive sessions exploring branches of government in Pennsylvania; a webinar about energy law, online workshops to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT); and a philanthropic project for Phi Delta Phi to raise funds for the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Leslie Laing, director of Adult Learner Programs in Student Affairs at Penn State, said both King and Butler have become experts at juggling multiple roles of responsibility at home, as students and active community members.

“Kimisse has overcome some of life’s most challenging obstacles and learned to use her passion and dedication to uplift trauma survivors, the underserved and oppressed populations, along with those in her sphere of influence. Her daily commitment and level of service is outstanding and she has become a valuable asset to our Penn State community,” Laing said. “Donna is an outstanding role model with demonstrated success with numerous roles and career-related activities. Her initiative, resourcefulness and exemplary engagement efforts have broken barriers and raised the bar for online students.”

The Outstanding Adult Student Award includes a Penn State diploma case and a $500 grant from the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund. Laing established the fund in 2008 to aid non-traditional-aged students and veterans who are struggling with financial and family responsibilities while earning their first-time undergraduate degree.

To contribute, visit Adult Learner Opportunity Fund in Penn State Student Affairs.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 01, 2019