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NASO connects non-traditional students with college life

By Dysheada Reid, Social Media Manager
On October 6, 2014

Re-entering the college scene can present a non-traditional student with many challenges. The Non-Traditional Adult Student Organization was created to help students meet some of those challenges.

"They [non-traditional adult students] were engaged in the classroom, but beyond that they weren’t. It was coming to class, doing your work, and going home," said Esther Powell, the founder of Winston-Salem State’s NASO, and assistant dean for professional and continuing education.

With more than 30 years of experience in adult education, Powell knew that adult students needed to be fully engaged both academically and socially.

"Being that I was once an adult student myself, I wanted them to become entrenched in the campus," Powell said.

"So one way of doing that was to create an organization for them so that they can be a part of the University’s social and academic activities to enhance their leadership and networking skills."

Any student that is 24 or older is classified as non-traditional.

"You can also have an adult situation," said Myra Reid, director of graduate and non-traditional services and on-campus adviser.

"You may have a 20 year old, who is married and has a family. That would be an adult situation that can make you a non-traditional student."

NASO provides tutoring, and on-site reading and writing labs.

WSSU has 1,600 non-traditional students, but only 20 non-traditional students have joined NASO.

A NASO chapter began in 1999 at WSSU and is recognized nationally as the Association of Non-traditional Students in Higher Education.

ANTSHE has a national conference that provides networking opportunities.

The conference rotates annually throughout the United States to different member universities.

"The 16th Annual ANTSHE Conference was held here [WSSU] last year," said Terry Andrews, president of the NASO Alumni Association.

"We are the only HBCU that is a part of this conference and to host it as well."

ANTSHE also provides opportunities for its members to receive scholarships.

NASO members are involved in the community and have partnerships with local agencies such as Winston-Salem Social Services’ Adopt a Family Campaign for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"This year we volunteered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event," Reid said.

"Also, every year after homecoming we do an event called, ‘Help Keep Winston- Salem Beautiful’ where we get together to clean up the community."

NASO has an executive board, participates in SGA, and the University’s Royal Court.

Mr. and Ms. NASO participate in the coronation and the homecoming parade; NASO also tailgates.

"NASO members help one another," Powell said.

"If there is a member in need, they reach out. They assist each other with a book swap, family-in- need situations, and they have family fun."

Graduates continued their affiliation with NASO by organizing a NASO Alumni Association.

Andrews said, "There are a lot of alumni associations that are tied to their organization on campus. We wanted to find another avenue to be able to give back and to provide encouragement for the undergraduate adult students."

They have about 20 members in the NASO Alumni Association, but the number fluctuates every year according to Andrews.

The lounge for non-traditional students is in 309 Thompson Center.

"It is an oasis where the non-traditional can study, engage with other adult students, have lunch or just rest," Reid said.

Andrews said that it is easy for a non-traditional student to get lost. To be able to have an organization to call your own that helps maneuver around the campus is vital.

"NASO is the hidden gem of organizations."

Reid said that she is proud that they [non-traditional students] simply returned to achieve a higher education, and pursue their dreams.

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