‘Best thing that I decided’
Angie Stout, ’15, stood outside a science lab listening to an 18-year-old student admit to being nervous as she hadn’t had the class since a sophomore in high school.
“It had been over 20 years since I’d had science,” said Stout with a laugh.
But she didn’t doubt herself. She knew she could learn.
“I’ve always loved to read and there’s a lot of learning in reading,” Stout said.
She made it past the science class and on May 9, she graduated cum laude, earning with a bachelor’s degree in English with teacher licensure.
Her third attempt at college proved the charm.
After graduating from Cedarville High School in 1985, she enrolled at Westark Community College. During the day, she worked full time at a factory and tried to take classes at night toward her business major.
She quit school.
Then she married and had her first child, a daughter. She changed her major to education and again enrolled in the junior college.
But then she became ill and had to leave school again.
For years she concentrated on taking care of her family, which had grown by a son. She became involved in her church’s youth ministry and led it to grow to more than 100 teenagers. That led to the development of an after-school program that provided a hot meal, homework help and activities.
“The youth didn’t have to attend the youth services,” she said. “It was totally about community service and serving the youth in the area.”
Even while leading the youth, Stout maintained a full-time job directing the senior citizen’s center in Cedarville. While she enjoyed working with the youth and senior citizens, she knew it was time to make a change as her job didn’t offer benefits or a retirement plan.
“I feel like we’re all called to do something in this world,” she said. “Mine is to reach out and be a positive influence with kids.”
In 2012, Stout enrolled again at UAFS taking 16-plus hours a semester while continuing to work full time.
“I wasn’t real fearful because I’m one of those people that if I decide to do something, I just do it,” she said. “I had some concerns with keeping up because it had been some time since I had taken any classes.”
Stout found that she thrived this third time. Evenings and weekends, she studied and read through assignments. She met with professors when she didn’t understand an assignment. In the nurturing environment, she flourished. An English research paper earned Stout an award and $150 from the UAFS Research Symposium. She worked to receive all “A”s and to graduate with honors.
“It was the best thing that I decided to do as an adult,” she said.
But she worried about her senior year and how she and her family would manage financially. She needed to take 19 hours that fall semester and in the spring she would spend her days in a classroom for student teaching, both meant she could not work full time. During a conversation about a project with Cammie Sublette, English department head, Sublette surprised Stout by stating that she would be a good candidate for the Gordon Kelley Scholarship. After an interview with the dean, Stout received notice that she’d been awarded the scholarship.
“It relieved a burden off of me,” she said. “Going back to school has been amazing. I couldn’t have done it this past year without the scholarship money.”
With her graduation behind her and a teaching career before her, Stout found her third attempt at education charmed. She plans to earn her master’s degree while teaching.
“I really feel like I was led to where I was supposed to be,” she said. “I’m excited to begin this second chapter in my life and have a shot at a career that I dreamed about when I was younger.”