Sarah Petty, 9, who will complete a bachelor of arts in liberal arts with a concentration in education in December 2019, advocates for nontraditional students in articles in The Collegian, the University’s student newspaper, and in U.S. News & World Report.

Petty will be completing her teaching internship experience during the Fall 2019 semester, and will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts major in liberal arts and concentration in elementary education. Upon completing her student teaching experience successfully, Petty will be eligible for elementary teacher licensure.

In the feature in The CollegianSarah Petty: Redefining What It Means to be a Non-Traditional Student at UR, Petty related the moment she realized that UR was the place for her to return to school.

“My grandfather attended the university and graduated sometime in the '40s,” Petty said. “I also was married at Cannon. Not only was I standing in front of the place where I said ‘I do’ to my husband, but it was as if my grandfather was there with me.

“I knew in that moment that this is exactly where I needed to be. You can’t make that stuff up.”

The article closed with a focus on the value Petty places on lifelong learning. “We are always learning,” Petty said. “I am a lifelong learner. We never arrive. There is always something new to offer to yourself.”

In the article in U.S. News & World ReportA College Guide for Nontraditional Students, Petty was featured as a voice of nontraditional students in college. She related common experiences for nontraditional students. One such experience was recognizing her learning transitioning from transactional — working for a degree — to transformational, changing the way she sees the world.

“Initially, I said I just want this piece of paper, I just want this degree, I want to finish it because I want to have my bachelor’s and to show my children how important higher education is,” said Petty. “But I feel that it went from transactional to transformational.”

Petty also focused on the importance of developing a support group among faculty and fellow nontraditional students. She discovered the SPCS Student Government Association.

“Most nontraditional students, I feel, are going for that piece of paper,” noted Petty. “But by finding ways to become involved, and getting to know your peers and getting to know your professors and finding that support system, it truly becomes a transformational experience.”

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