Kiersten Hewitt was named the top non-traditional student in the United States by the University Continuing Education Association. The award is based on academic achievement, as well as exemplary school and the community activities.
Hewitt is a student at Utah State University’s Brigham City Campus majoring in psychology. She is a single mother of four who, after 12-year absence from school, returned to college to earn the degree.
The award is presented to one student who is at least 25 years old and whose education has been interrupted by at least two years. The award also considers grades, volunteer service and unconventional circumstances the student has had to overcome.
Among other honors, Hewitt was selected as the USU Robin’s Award Woman of the Year for 2004, the most prestigious award given to women students at USU. She was the first nontraditional student ever to receive the honor in the 55 year history of the award.
According Andy Shinkle, executive director of the USU-Brigham City campus, Hewitt developed a program for students with children that includes a childcare center at the Brigham City Campus. The program ensures that nontraditional students can bring their children to school and have a safe place for them while the parents attend class or study. She also provides workshops that help students with children cope with stress, parenting and financial issues associated with going back to school.
She also organized Brigham City’s campus student government — an organization that developed an Angels for Christmas program, raising more than $50,000 over the last two years to provide Christmas for many local needy families.
“Kiersten also initiated and organized a Family Fair that was held at our campus for the past two years that brought together all the local family service and community health agencies,” Shinkle said. “This event was a huge success, and hundreds of families were in attendance. She worked with a cadre of state agencies to implement on-site childcare at our campus in the fall of 2004. Due to the great success of this project, we are currently building a new child care center to expand this service. This project would have never happened without Hewitt’s hard work.”
The award will be presented April 12 at the National University Continuing Education Association Conference in San Diego.