Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks staff Q&A with Thelma Arthur

Arthur has been a member of the Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks staff for 14 years
Thelma Arthur is the perfect example of the power of a quality education and the strength of family. Over the last 15 years, she has gone from working in a factory without a high school diploma to completing her associate (1997), bachelor’s (2001) and MBA (2005) at Columbia College. Arthur now serves as the senior academic advisor at Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks and is proud of the educational route she traveled to get where she is now. Read more about the proud grandmother of nine who is a fan of gospel music:
 Name:  Thelma Arthur
Alma Mater, Date of Graduation: I received my Associate of Arts in 1997, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2001 and my MBA from Columbia College in 2005.

Family members:  
I just celebrated 39 years of marriage to my wonderful husband, Vernon (who is also a faculty member at the Lake campus). We have two daughters and one son and nine grandchildren, which may I add is the joy of our life.
Years at Columbia College –Lake of the Ozarks: I have been on staff at the Lake campus for 14 years in January. I started as an administrative assistant, moved to financial aid and now I am senior academic advisor. I have also been teaching business classes for five years.
Hobbies: I love to read a good book, do yard work and play with my dog, Holly.
Arthur speaking with JR from KRMS radio at the Lake campus' 20th anniversary celebration
Favorite Movie and/or TV Show: My favorite movie of all time is Titanic. I like to watch TV shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons.”  To me, these shows portray the spirit and perseverance of the American people.
Favorite kind of music/favorite artist/song: I like to listen to southern gospel music. I also listen to country sometimes.
Favorite Book: Any book written by Nicholas Sparks.
Favorite Food: There is not much that I don’t like. If I have to pick something, it would be a good, tender pot roast with the works.
Arthur serves as senior academic advisor and also teaches a variety of business courses
Favorite subject in college: Any business class
When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be a ______? I always wanted to be an owner of a boutique.  Traveling to different countries purchasing their products, bringing them back home to sell in my store would be a very exciting life.
What is the best part about working at Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks?  I enjoy most aspects of my job. However, I have to say the best part of my job is watching a new student with little self confidence change as they pursue their degree.  I have seen new students that even I had doubts about, turn their life around and blossom into some of our best students. To see students’ confidence improve through the four years of college and then to see them walk across the stage at graduation with their heads held high with self confidence, always brings on the tears. I have been to every Lake campus graduation, and we always have at least one of these students that make me cry. I love it and to me that is the most important reward I receive from my job. I am very proud of all of our students because I know the hard work and sacrifices they have faced to earn their degree. However, just like my own children, I am proud of all of them, but there is always one that pulls on your heart strings a little harder.
What moment in your life are you the proudest of? I think it would be the decision to not live my life to please other people, but to live it through my faith and convictions. I know if I continue to do that, my life will be what God intends it to be.
Best excuse you have heard from a student who was late with their work? “I didn’t know we had a deadline to turn this in.”
What piece of advice would you impart to a student prior to graduation? Just to stay true to yourself and never stop learning.
Talk about your journey and what lead you to Columbia College –Lake of the Ozarks: I am from a family of 13 children. My mom graduated high school, but my dad only went to the sixth grade. No one in my family had gone to college. So I am a first generation college graduate, which I have to say I am very proud of.
I was working at a manufacturing plant in Versailles, Mo., in 1996. My husband was attending the Lake campus and kept talking to me about going to college. I was one of those people with low self confidence, was not a high school graduate and had not earned my GED. So I really had doubts that I could do it. My husband kept pushing me to get my GED. A few months later I did it. I started college in January of 1997, planning to just get my associate degree. I became “addicted” to learning. I loved it, so I continued on with my bachelor’s degree in business administration. I thought I was done. After a few sessions of not taking classes and missing it so bad, I decided to earn my MBA with Columbia College. Back then the classes were not online, so I had to travel to the Jefferson City campus for the first six classes and then to the main campus for the last six. I have to say I was exhausted from working everyday and driving that far for class. But I enjoyed it so much. In 2005, I made my last trip to Columbia for class. I will never forget the feeling of driving home that night (around 11:30 p.m.), knowing that I had earned my MBA and that was my last trip I had to make for class. Words cannot express how I felt.  I was still addicted to learning, so now I teach business classes to take care of that. I tell my students that just because I am the instructor does not mean that I know all there is to know, because I don’t. I continue to learn with every class I teach and much of what I learn, I learn from the students. And that is a good life!

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