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Stacey Bates: BA student, Donna and Richard Gillespie Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Stacey BatesFor the past 14 years, Stacey Bates has taken her talents around the world.

An English language instructor for community centers and language schools, Bates has had the ability to instruct in both Russia and Turkey, the latter where she and her family currently reside.

As she and her husband near their ‘empty nest’ years, with her children leaving home to pursue education or careers, Bates saw this as an opportunity to invest in herself.

“I began my studies when my oldest child left for college by taking CLEP® tests here and there and, when possible, a semester at the local community college,” she explained. “With my work and travel schedule, I realized that to complete my degree focused on international studies, I would have to find an online school. Through various online message boards I learned about Thomas Edison.”

When she learned about the institution, she found the University’s Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and determined that the program was what she had been looking for.

“I was able to get the needed credit via testing for a foreign language I had already learned in addition to all of my CLEP® credit transferring in,” she explained. “Because of the way classes are scheduled, I can take enough hours to qualify for financial aid while still maintaining my professional and personal life. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work, but it has been attainable for me.”

In addition to financial aid, Bates was selected as the recipient of the Donna and Richard Gillespie Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship, established in 1992 by the Gillespies, is granted to enrolled students pursuing an undergraduate degree program at the University. The Gillespies are, in fact, no stranger to the University. Richard is a longstanding member of the Thomas Edison State University Foundation Board, having served since 1984.

“This scholarship has enabled me to pursue a long-held dream of furthering my education,” said Bates. “As mothers, we often put every other need in front of our own so that we can ensure the happiness and success of our children. The scholarship not only quieted my worries about whether I was investing too much money in myself, but gave me a needed boost of confidence knowing there are people who recognize the value of what I want to do with my education.”

Throughout her degree pursuit, Bates explained that her course work has allowed her to better understand her students and grasp world events on a deeper level.

“I have purposely chosen topics for my research papers that delve into issues that matter to my students, and I have been rewarded with better comprehension of their outlook on life,” she explained. “Understanding the world my students come from can only help me become a more empathetic and knowledgeable teacher.”

Upon graduation, Bates plans to earn a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

“I want to learn all I can to help non-native English speakers feel at home in the United States or wherever their lives lead them,” she said.

When not traveling for work or pleasure, Bates and her family call North Carolina home.