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Geneva native named Project Strive/TRiO Student of the Month

April 12, 2016

Courtney Pendleton Courtney Pendleton

CHADRON – Courtney Pendleton of Geneva, Nebraska, has been named the March Student of the Month for Project Strive/TRiO.

Pendleton, a senior Family and Consumer Science major with a concentration in Health and Human Services, will graduate in December 2016. She is also an FCS Club member.

Her favorite class has been FCS 314 Future Focus, a one credit hour, face-to-face course of about 15 students taught by Dr. Josh Ellis.

“He’ll write a prompt or two on the board and then we’ll discuss the topics and how they relate to our personal goals, family structure over time, society and politics. It’s not a lecture. I like to hear and learn about other points of view and we’re good about keeping the group discussion civil,” she said.

Pendleton said Ellis also offers a student choice week, when the topics of discussion are guided by students’ prompts.

“Teri Albertazzi was the same way. She asked what we thought about the topic. More classes should be like that. I think I do as well as I do because FCS is hands-on rather than a lecture-based major,” said Pendleton also counted Dr. Russ Seger’s Aging and Death course among her favorites.

Project Strive/TRiO counselor Sonja Dressel encouraged Pendleton to give a presentation at a TRiO Day event in Kearney in late February. Although she was nervous about the public speaking commitment, Pendleton presented her speech, “Finding Your Niche,” sharing tips for overcoming obstacles and adjusting to college life.

“Learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Build a support system for yourself, including someone who is a straight shooter and will tell you when you get off track. You’re going to fail at certain things, but that’s not a reason to give up. Take what you can from it and do better next time,” she said.

Dressel sat next to Pendleton’s mother, LaDonna, in the audience that day and said they were both proud of her.

“On our campus we frequently talk about being a ‘home away from home’ and promote our family-like atmosphere, and that day when we were able to witness together Courtney inspiring other students, it was a great experience of being a CSC family,” Dressel said. “I've been truly honored to see her develop as a student and a leader since I met her family during New Student Orientation.”

Dressel said Pendleton’s fantastic sense of humor is a quality that sets her apart from others.

“She is witty, smart and has more keen observations on life than individuals twice her age. When she stops by my office we've been known to have lengthy discussions about current events, politics, theology or television. I always look forward to her insights,” Dressel said.

Pendleton’s summer plans dovetail nicely with her long-term career plans. After three years as a camp counselor at Carol Joy Holling Camp near Ashland, Nebraska, and the Sullivan Hills Camp near Lodgepole, Nebraska, she has been hired as an assistant camp director at the Ebert Ranch in Texas.

Camps are a healthy, positive experience for children, according to Pendleton.

“It’s good for kids to have ‘unplugged’ time outside where they get back to the basics like swimming and hiking,” she said.

One of Pendleton’s best outdoor memories during her CSC career was her Study Away Alaska trip in 2013. She fondly recalls the trip that included helping with the Iditarod.

“I’m a certified dog handler. How many people can say that? It was eye opening to see so much cultural diversity in art, science and language. We even met someone from Chadron at the Native Heritage Center,” she said.

Closer to home, Pendleton has been involved in the community. She taught Sunday School for two years and now leads a Bible study class for college-aged students at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Pendleton’s other extracurricular activities include clogging. She is the Campus Activities Dance Club president and takes clogging lessons on Monday nights and tutors another college student on Wednesday nights, continuing an interest she has pursued in several types of dance since she was three.

She is busy this month, along with other dance club members, preparing for the group’s April 30 recital during which she will help coordinate sound, lights and cameras.

—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator

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