Cassville teacher earns scholarship for master’s

Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Zabdi Salazar, of Purdy, was recently surprised with a $2,500 Alumni Masters Scholarship to WGU Missouri. The scholarship is open to WGU alums who are interested in pursuing a master’s degree. Zabdi, a kindergarten teacher at Eunice Thomas Primary School in the Cassville school district, is pursuing a Master of Arts in English Language Learning (pre-K-12) from WGU Missouri. She was virtually presented with the scholarship on Aug. 12 by WGU Strategic Partnerships Manager Jim Chandler. Contributed photo

Salazar: ‘This will kind of bring me full circle’

In May 2020, Cassville kindergarten teacher Zabdi Salazar applied for a $2,500 Alumni Master’s Scholarship to WGU Missouri.

The scholarship is open to WGU alums who are interested in pursuing a master’s degree.

Salazar is pursuing a Master of Arts in English Language Learning (PreK-12) from WGU Missouri. She was virtually presented with the scholarship on Aug. 12 by WGU Strategic Partnerships Manager Jim Chandler.

“I applied because I had decided to get my master’s and wanted some financial help,” she said. “I was shocked, but I am so thankful that I was chosen.”

Salazar said she was so shocked because the scholarship is open to so many people and she was who the school picked.

“I am so thankful for the help with the tuition,” she said. “I was able to get my bachelor’s degree through WGU Missouri without any student debt through grants and my own savings.”

Salazar wanted to reach out for that financial help since she will be paying out of pocket for this degree as well.

“I am one of the lucky few who can say they got a degree without student debt,” she said. “With this university, it is work at your own pace, but I expect to have my master’s degree in December 2021.”

Salazar said she didn’t plan to use her new degree right away.

“I love teaching kindergarten, specifically teaching children to read,” she said. “It is my dream job and when I see a child reading it just makes my day.”

In the future, Salazar plans on becoming an ELL teacher.

“I myself am from Mexico,” she said. “I came to the U.S. at 11 years old and was in an ELL program. This will kind of bring me full circle.”

Salazar enjoys getting children motivated and ready for an education.

Angie Besendorfer, chancellor at WGU Missouri, said the university looks for applicants of the scholarship who they know will be successful.

“We want someone who understands the WGU difference,” she said. “It takes someone with inner motivation.”

Besendorfer said when the university invests their scholarship dollars they want them to go where they will best be used.

“Also, we look at the needs of the applicant,” she said. “Needs are defined in a broad sense. Our scholarship application allows the applicant to tell their story — this shows needs that don’t show up on their FAFSA.”

Besendorfer said their students are not just numbers.

“For Salazar, this scholarship will help financially,” she said. “But, it will also open new career opportunities for her.”

Besendorfer said the need for ELL is so important and the university understands that.

“A teacher with an ELL degree is important in this area of the country,” Besendorfer said. “And to have a heart in a teacher who can identify with her students is amazing. We are proud to have awarded this scholarship to her.”

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