Interview and article by Shelby Longland, C‘13

What makes this year at SPCS special to you?

September 17th of this year marked the Fiftieth anniversary of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. This year is special to me not only because I am serving as President of the SPCS Alumni Association, but because I, too, turned 50 this year! I am so honored to serve as President during this historic year. Also, in November, I retired from the United States Air Force culminating thirty years of military service.

How did you first become involved with SPCS?

My initial experience with SPCS was taking a math course in 1999. It  was not easy because I had been out of school almost 17 years, yet the instructor, classroom atmosphere, and faculty made my transition seamless.

Why did you decide to remain involved in SPCS through the Alumni Association?

When I attended classes, the School didn’t just treat me like a student, they welcomed me into the Spider Family. Participating in events such as attending a play at the Modlin Center of the Arts and cheering at a sporting event made me notice that everyone acted like a close-knit family.

I am a Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force and have an affinity for “esprit de corps” and camaraderie. Therefore, feeling accepted into a family is a huge deal for me. By facilitating, attending and monitoring SPCS events I do my part to ensure the family atmosphere remains, and we continue the excellence and continue the engagement with the University.  

What is the mission of the SPCS Alumni Association?

The mission of the Association is to support the School, students, and alumni through the adoption of projects that provide scholarship assistance for our students while providing service and social opportunities for our alumni.

What does your position in the Alumni Association entail?

As President, I work with Dean James Narduzzi and his staff to facilitate and coordinate any number of SPCS events, oversee six committees, attend events on behalf of the Board and act as an ambassador for the School. In March, I attended the University’s Regional Alumni Meeting in Atlanta, Ga., which attests to how far we go to stay connected and obtain the best students in the nation. 

What would you tell people considering attending SPCS?

First, a degree from the University of Richmond is within your reach and you must set it as a goal! Second, surround yourself with individuals that are goal-oriented and focused on advancing (and not hindering) your progress. Finally, hold yourself accountable for securing the degree. Never settle for excuses, instead make reasons for obtaining your degree.

What’s your favorite quote or piece of advice?

One of my favorite quotes, which is analogous to a SPCS student, is by George Eliot: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” The essence of that quote is a driving force for our SPCS students because we take varied career paths. The key is to never give up! The quantity of time is not always the main factor, often it is the quality of the final product.  

Has SPCS helped you accomplish any life goals?

Giving my best effort in every class and graduating with a high GPA were a couple of my goals at SPCS. In 2007, I obtained several goals by graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Applied Studies in Paralegal Studies, and thereafter I was promoted to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) in the United States Air Force. The University played a major role in accomplishing my goals and remains as a “pantheonic” figure for education in this region! Thank you to the whole SPCS Team. Go Spiders!