New Adult Degree Completion program designed to meet the needs of students, workforce.

Beverly Lescard had some unfinished business.

Having retired after 40 years in the banking field and spending the last 11 years focusing on her family, the 70-year-old Siloam Springs resident decided to return to Missouri Southern to finish her degree.

“I attended Missouri Southern from 1969-72 and studied business, which has always been my niche,” Lescard said. “In the summer of 1972, my husband returned from the Navy and we got married. I started working at Arkansas State Bank in Siloam Springs.”

Her interest in returning to complete her degree came at the perfect time, with the fall launch of the new Adult Degree Completion (ADC) program at MSSU.

The program is designed to advance the career readiness of adults who wish to finish their bachelor’s degree or further their skills by obtaining their master’s. It will offer affordable and tailored degrees and certifications, and will meet local workforce needs by offering accelerated and flexible opportunities for employee advancement.

Josh DeTar, a Joplin native and city council member who attended Missouri Southern before launching a career as a financial advisor, started working to finish his degree in October.

“Going back to school to finish my degree is something I’ve been wanting to do,” he said. “Not finishing has been one of my regrets in life, and I want to show my kids that it’s important.

“When I ran for Joplin City Council, I always tried to deflect the question about my education,” he said. “Back then, I didn’t have the patience (to finish). The eight-week, online classes offered by this program works really well for me.”

Both Lescard and DeTar bring years of experience that can be converted into academic credits – one of the benefits of the new ADC program.

“Students can apply the knowledge they have gained from work and life experiences toward completion of their degree,” said Dr. Will Mountz, director of adult degree completion.

The ADC program was recently approved for a $30,000 Institutional Workforce Enhancement grant by the Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation, which Mountz said will help to further assist adult learners.

“This grant will go toward helping us launch this program and for things like technology that students can come in to use to do assignments or check out,” he said.

For Lescard, checking off the “bucket-list” item of earning her bachelor’s degree has been made more easily obtainable through the ADC program. And coming back to Missouri Southern to do it felt right, she said.

“If I hadn’t attended Missouri Southern and gotten that solid foundation, I never would have had the opportunities I did in banking,” she said.