Wilkes University


Debra Taylor of Forty Fort, Pa., Wins Outstanding Adult Learner Award for Wilkes University

Debra Taylor of Forty Fort, Pa., received the 2019 Outstanding Adult Learner Award for Wilkes University. The award is presented by the Luzerne County Council on Adult Higher Education. Taylor received the award at the council’s dinner held at Misericordia University in March.

Taylor’s path to a college degree was marked by hard work, dedication and determination. Her mother died due to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when Taylor was young, but before her mother passed, she promised her that she would one day get her degree. Taylor would keep the promise 20 years later.taylor

After marrying, raising three children and working full- and part-time jobs, she began her path to college when she started taking classes at Luzerne County Community College. She eventually entered the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration online program at Wilkes in summer 2016, becoming a full-time student by fall. Although it is an online program, Taylor still had to attend classes on campus to fulfill her general education requirements.

Taylor focused on her school work and became an exploratory student even while working multiple jobs and managing a household. In November 2015, she worked the night shift in the facilities department at Wilkes while still working at a second, off-campus job. For eight weeks she worked at the University from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and then went to work again at her other job from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Taylor was only on the night shift in facilities for eight months. She started a new job in February 2018 working days in enrollment operations at Wilkes. Once she went on day shift, her schedule opened up and she was able to take more classes.

Helen Davis, associate professor of English, who taught Taylor in her composition class, was one of several people who nominated her for the Outstanding Adult Learner Award. Noting in her nomination that Taylor is “one of the strongest students in the class in terms of effort and desire to improve,” Davis wrote, “She is exactly the kind of student I love to have: she is engaged and committed, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our classroom discussions, and she works to improve herself. “

After she graduates in May, Taylor plans to enter the Master of Business Administration program at Wilkes.