(Pictured: Mandi and her two daughters- Alivia and Bella)

The July Alumni Update features 2013 graduate Mandi Beesler. Please read on to see how life has changed for Mandi and her two daughters- Alivia (18) and Bella (11) since completing her education at the University of Arkansas.

Tell us about your degree and where you’re currently employed: I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Kiniesiology and Health and Coaching from the University of Arkansas in 2013. I am currently working on my Master’s Degree in Special Education K-12 from Arkansas State University. I work for Fayetteville Public Schools as a Special Education teacher, and I am starting my 6th year with the district.

What has been the most rewarding thing about having a degree? Once I started my career, I was placed in a structured learning classroom with Fayetteville High School and fell in love with Special Education and wanted to stay with it. It’s the most rewarding job. I love teaching children with special needs and seeing their growth year after year.

What/who kept you motivated during your time as an SPSF NWA scholarship recipient? My daughters were my biggest motivation, along with the support from my family. Being a recipient with SPSF NWA has been the biggest blessing to not only me, but my daughters as well. We were able to experience things as a family, I normally wouldn’t be able to do because of finances. You make friends for life with other recipients, and stay involved through our Alumni Association.

What was the most beneficial part of being a SPSF NWA scholarship recipient? The love and support- not only received by the staff, but other recipients, board members, and donors. They truly made me feel loved and let me know I was doing the right thing for myself and my family.

What has changed most for you and your family now that you are no longer in school? I was able to move out of my parents’ house and live on my own with my kids, and that has been the greatest feeling in the world. I definitely have more time to spend with my daughters, and participate in activities that we haven’t been able to, had I not gone to school.

How did your pursuit of a college education influence your children or other family members? The day I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I could hear my daughters yelling for me and I then knew at that moment, that all of the struggles and heartache were completely worth it. My oldest just graduated high school, and is furthering her education by starting cosmetology school in the fall.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment since completing your degree? Receiving an “Above and Beyond Award” by the Board of Education was an amazing accomplishment. I am very proud of my basketball team for winning the State Championship in Special Olympics. And, becoming a Cancer Survivor in 2018!

What advice would you give someone desiring to go back to school or to someone who is currently attending? When you are at your wit’s end and want to give up, just remember the struggles you are going through will only make you stronger in the end. Stay strong and finish stronger!