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Adult student wants to help others like her

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Stacy Vogel
November 28, 2009
— When Tammy Stafford-Bartelt went back to school in her 30s, she felt like she was “walking into the lion’s den,” she said.

But it turned out to be one of the best things she ever did, she said.


Education helped Stafford-Bartelt climb out of poverty and support her two sons after her second marriage ended. Today, she has a bachelor’s degree, works at the Rock County Job Center and is working on a master’s degree in education and counseling.


She wants to help adults going back to school not feel as nervous as she did, especially when it comes to figuring out how to pay for college.


“As an adult student … we have to be a little bit more creative about our funding,” she said. “We have to search a little bit more.”


Stafford-Bartelt will share what she’s learned about financial aid and bring in experts on the topic for a seminar Wednesday at Beloit Turner High School. She’s organizing the seminar as part of her master’s degree program.


The topic couldn’t be more timely. Local colleges are seeing record enrollments as unemployed workers try to acquire new skills. Some students receive government grants that help dislocated workers, but others are on their own.


Every year, thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants go unused because people don’t know about them or are intimidated by the application process, said Amber Culver, a job center counselor who is helping Stafford-Bartelt organize the seminar.


Stafford-Bartelt compiled thick binders of information about financial aid when she went back to school. She applied for every scholarship she could find and received several, from an American Association for University Women award to tuition assistance from Mercy Health System.


“Tammy is a good person to put this together because she has developed an expertise in private scholarships and grants and helping people actually write the application,” Culver said.


Katie Scieszinski, a student at Blackhawk Technical College, has worked with Stafford-Bartelt through her counseling service, Never 2 Late. She’s received two $500 scholarships with Stafford-Bartelt’s help.


“She’s definitely helped me to apply for stuff that I probably would never have applied for on my own,” she said.


The seminar gives Stafford-Bartelt a chance to help many adult students at once. Representatives from Blackhawk Technical College, UW-Rock County, private colleges and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will offer advice.


Seminar attendees who want more help will be able to sign up for a more intense workshop to be held in January, Stafford-Bartelt said.


“When they walk out the door (of the January workshop), they will actually have in their hands some scholarships they will actually be able to start applying for,” she said.


If you go


What: Financial Planning for College-bound Adults seminar


When: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2.


Where: Beloit Turner High School, 1231 Inman Parkway, Beloit Township.


More information: Registration is required by Tuesday, Dec. 1. The seminar is limited to 100 people. To register, contact Tamela Stafford-Bartelt at (608) 741-3591 or tamela.stafford@dwd.wisconsin.gov; Amber Culver at 741-3532 or amber.culver@dwd.wisconsin .gov; or Sandra Bier at 741-3607 or sandra.bier@dwd.wisconsin.gov.



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