Alexandra Lemp, left, and Ed Bengtson pause for a photo July 1 outside Lemp’s home after Bengtson presented a framed diploma to her during the RazorBug Diploma Tour. Lemp studied online for a master’s degree in educational leadership from the U of A. The tour celebrated the successes of students who studied in online degree programs.
Alexandra Lemp teaches art at Ozark High School, and she wants to bring an arts educator’s perspective to school administration someday. She chose an online master’s degree from the U of A so she could continue teaching at Ozark while earning the degree that can move her into educational leadership.
“Most of my students will not work in the arts as a career,” Lemp said. “But the arts teach you critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills, both visual and verbal.”
On July 1, U of A faculty and staff members traveled to the River Valley to continue the RazorBug Diploma Tour started in June to celebrate the success of U of A students who studied in online degree programs. Ed Bengtson, head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, traveled from Fayetteville to present Lemp’s framed diploma in a ceremony in the front yard of her Fort Smith home. He was the first person she talked with – by phone – when she enrolled in the program two years before.
“I am excited,” Lemp said. “This is really cool. It feels a little more final. My professors were fantastic, especially Christy Smith (teaching assistant professor). They were encouraging and accommodating.”
Her mother and one of her sisters watched the presentation, and her black cat, Kefi, peeked from the picture window of the house.
“My family definitely has been a huge support,” Lemp said. “I had a couple of meltdowns, times they brought me dinner, times I was late to family events, usually because I had fallen asleep. Education is my passion, and it was hard, but I enjoyed it, and I believe it’s highly important.”
Lemp was in the first class to graduate from the new School of Art at the U of A, and she wanted to continue her education at the U of A. She initially enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching program in social studies but decided the educational leadership master’s degree would be more useful to her in the long run. She was already certified to teach history.
Lemp told Bengtson after the presentation that she has more of a mindset of the future now, where she’d like to see her school district go and the direction of public education as a whole. One of her favorite aspects of the online master’s program was having what she described as higher-level discussions about such broader views.
“I have definitely become more aware of the administrator’s point of view,” she said. “I look at the organization as a whole, not just my class, and how my teaching influences the school culture as a whole.”
More than 440 students who studied in online degree programs applied for graduation from the U of A in May.
U of A faculty and staff members traveled throughout south Arkansas and the River Valley for two weeks in the RazorBug Diploma Tour to present diplomas to some of the recent graduates who earned degrees in online programs. The RazorBug is a converted red Volkswagen Beetle that sports a Razorback snout, tail and razor-edged spine. It has been used for recruitment and special events since 2005.
The RazorBug Diploma Tour was organized by the U of A’s Global Campus. The Global Campus works with academic colleges to offer more than 75 online degree, certificate, microcertificate and licensure programs. For more information about U of A ONLINE, please visit online.uark.edu.