Ready…Set…Go…Let the blogging begin! I am excited to start this journey. My name is Dawn Novak and I am the Admissions Coordinator for the Center for Distance Education for Upper Iowa University. I am lucky to have observed Upper Iowa from many different points of view. My job is to inform prospective students on the opportunities we offer students through Distance Education. I am located in Fayette, Iowa which is the foundation for our university.
I was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa and graduated from Cedar Falls High School in 1996. I like so many others “tried” college right out of high school and just could not find the fit I needed. I tried both a four-year university and a community college to no avail. So I decided to try the working world, where I had the opportunity to work for the largest credit union in Iowa. They helped give me the tools and skills needed to grow into a person who knew who I was and what direction would help take me there. While working and growing in the organization I found a mentor who helped me realize the potential I had, and suggested I go back and give college another try. While working full-time I decided to enroll in night classes at the Waterloo Campus. In the fall of 2003 and with a small child at home, I made the commitment to work full-time and devote two nights a week to school (full-time student) at UIU. While in classes I had my second child, and took one term off. It was hard to continue my journey, but in August 2006 I completed my Bachelors of Science in Business Administration (summa cum laude, yeah!). I was very lucky to have such a great support system of family, friends, co-workers, professors, and other students.
After taking some time off, I realized that I missed the atmosphere and culture that I had when being an Upper Iowa student. I decided to start my Master’s program in January 2007 for Business Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Development. I was still working full-time for the same company. The online atmosphere was very different from the center environment. I could work with non-traditional students like myself but it also opened the entire world to me! The other students in the classes had so many different experiences (career and personal) and backgrounds that I had not been witness to before living in Northeast Iowa. The small classes helped me learn about their life experiences that could not be taught from a textbook. In March 2009, I completed my Masters degree! I can say that it was challenging and very difficult at times, but the benefits definitely outweighed the sacrifices that were made.
After finishing my Master’s I decided that I wanted to move from finance and start looking at opportunities in higher education. The difference that was made in my life by the whole experience with Upper Iowa left me wanting to make a difference in other’s lives. In November 2009, I was able to be an adjunct professor with the Waterloo Center and have continued to enjoy teaching non-traditional students through face-to-face and online classes now and then. My job with the Center for Distance Education allows me to help new students determine how they can achieve their goals. I have the ability to help students individually, as well look for unique ways to market our programs, collaborate with the other teams within the Center for Distance Education (CDE), and provide ways to assist our students to succeed!
I am happily married to my husband Adam, who works for John Deere in Waterloo. The only disagreement in our house is our favorite NFL football team. He is a huge Green Bay Packer fan, and I am a huge Chicago Bears fan. We have three children Joshua, Nathan, and Hannah. We enjoy spending time together (tossing around a football, canoeing, fishing, reading bedtime stories, playing board games, etc.) and traveling as much as possible. We are huge movie buffs and love to experience something new.
I look forward to sharing my experiences in this blog as well as opening it up to others in the Center for Distance Education to help our students (prospective and established) succeed! Our team consists of the Admissions Team, the Academic Advising Team, the Student Accounts Team, and other key positions that keep us running smoothly. There is never a dull moment around here so let’s get ready for some fun!