March 2, 2012 – The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) will award its highest honor, the Graduate Recognition for Excellence, Achievement and Talent (GREAT) Award, to Ashford University graduate Debra Stewart in a March 7 ceremony on Capitol Hill.
“I am speechless. I am very excited, honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Stewart. “I can only imagine that there are so many people who are doing great things.”
Stewart, of Laura, Ohio, is one of five honorees to be honored for demonstrating excellence in outstanding academic and personal achievement. She earned her Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology degrees at Ashford University.
Stewart, who grew up an orphan on an Indian reservation, overcame many obstacles on her road to receiving the GREAT Award. In her 50s, Stewart went back to college to complete her bachelor’s degree. She then discovered Ashford University’s progressive online platform and was encouraged to continue her education. Ashford’s flexibility and support allowed her to pursue additional degrees while tending to her many other responsibilities, including caring for her husband who was diagnosed with dementia. She has now completed two master’s degrees with Ashford University, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Psychology, Educational Leadership and Health and Wellness Psychology Specialization degree online at University of the Rockies.
With more than 15 years experience in the healthcare industry, Stewart is the Director of Wellness for the St. Leonard senior living community. She was instrumental in facilitating the non-profit organization’s certification as the first Vital Life Community in the nation, which she calls her greatest professional achievement thus far. Stewart also teaches for Sinclair Community College, owns a company called Picture Yourself Stronger that offers corporate wellness programs to various organizations, and serves on the advisory boards of Mental Health Technology and Vital Nation.
After years of working with dementia patients, Stewart was inspired to pursue her most recent project: developing the “Learning Styles Inventory Tool” to help caregivers communicate with individuals who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The tool has been successfully piloted and is now in the process of being implemented at St. Leonard as part of Stewart’s dissertation for her doctorate program.