Jordan Kumm left the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2016 just short of completing his bachelor's degree, having found a job he enjoyed. He thought he might go back to school someday, but several circumstances pointed him toward his goal.
In March, the casino where he worked laid him off because of COVID-19. Unsure of what to do next, Kumm recalled a letter he received from his alma mater the previous fall.
Sally Cayan, a university enrollment outreach coordinator, sent letters to students from the past 10 years who had accumulated more than 100 credits but did not complete their degree. The "Close to Graduation" program offered them assistance in finishing their final requirements toward a bachelor's degree.
"We wanted to remind them that they were close – and we were here to help," she said.
"The letter struck a chord with me," Kumm said. "I had time off and with all the uncertainty around my job, I had a chance to better myself. I quit smoking, and I went back to school."
This month, he earned his long-awaited bachelor's degree in political science. He was short nine credits, so Cayan forwarded his information to his adviser and graduation auditor. On review, they were able to reduce that to four credits. Over the summer, Kumm, Nekoosa, completed a three-credit biology class and a one-credit wellness class, all online, over six weeks.
Cayan became a great resource for him. "She made the process super easy for me, went to bat for me and made me feel welcome," he said.
Since the "Close to Graduation" program began, nine students graduated during the spring and three more graduated this summer. More students are set to take classes this fall, Cayan said.
The program is a team effort, with input from academic departments, advisers, office of the registrar, financial aid and admissions, she said.
"We do all we can to help them graduate," Cayan said.
"I'm really happy I made the decision to return to UW-Stevens Point," Kumm said. "Now I'm in a position to re-enter a competitive job market with the degree I need.
"Earning my diploma has given me a great sense of accomplishment," he added. "I hope to find a job I enjoy, that offers me security and a chance to do some good in the world."
"I'm so proud of Jordan," Cayan said. "It is so good to see him succeed. This outreach makes a difference."
For more information on returning to UW-Stevens Point to complete your degree, contact Cayan at 715-346-2764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.