“I received a letter from Northwestern asking if I would give them permission to audit my courses,” Harper said. “I’ve wanted that piece of paper a long time.”
In Project Win-Win, universities check the records of students to determine if the former student enrolled at another college or university or received a degree elsewhere. If not, they prepare a final transcript analysis to see if the student is eligible to receive an associate degree. Northwestern State officials found approximately 1,000 students who may be eligible for an associate degree. Nearly 500 students are lacking a small number of hours to receive a degree.
A native of Sabine Parish, Harper is a retired nurse, who completed a three-year nursing program at the Mather School of Nursing, operated for many years at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans, where students took science and other courses at Tulane University. The year after she graduated, Tulane began awarding credit to those students. BSN programs were not as common in the 1950s and 1960s and not necessary to become a nurse.
Harper was a registered nurse for more than 40 years. Her family lived in Natchitoches from 1963-66 while her first husband earned a degree in education and accounting at Northwestern State while Harper worked at Natchitoches Parish Hospital. She later took classes at Nicholls State University in the 1970s and at Northwestern State’s Leesville-Fort Polk campus in the 1980s. In the early 1980s, she began work at Paul C. Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy. The daily commute and her work schedule made taking classes difficult.
“Now that I’ve retired, it won’t mean much in my career, but it’s nice to have a college diploma,” said Harper, who is active in ministry work in Honduras, travelling there at least twice a year. She is also active in her church, Diamond Baptist, and volunteers at God’s Food Bank in DeRidder.
“One if the main purposes of this program is to give students an incentive to return and finish their bachelor’s degree,” said Northwestern State Registrar Lillie Frazier Bell. “When students learn they have earned an associate degree, it often gives them incentive to return to school and get a bachelor’s degree.”
For more information on Project Win-Win at Northwestern, contact the NSU Registrar’s Office at (318) 357-6171.