By Libby Brandt
Social Media & Communications Manager, Chancellor University
Shelly Bender is a paralegal who loves her job. She’s also a single parent who never thought she’d have the opportunity to fulfill her dream of pursuing her bachelor’s degree in legal studies.
But thanks to Chancellor University and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), Shelly will begin working toward her degree this October at Chancellor with a full ride scholarship under her belt.
“I found out about the scholarship opportunity through my NFPA,” said Shelly, who is also vice president and NFPA primary representative for Central Connecticut Paralegal Association (CCPA). “I thought it was just wonderful and I sent out an email blast to get everyone to apply for it. I never even considered it for myself.”
And while she was championing the opportunity to others, a good friend and attorney she works with convinced her that she should take a chance and submit an application with what would become her winning essay.
“They didn’t tell me in advance that I had won,” said Shelly. “I was at the NFPA Convention in Alaska and I heard them call my name. I couldn’t believe it.”
The scholarship, which covers the entire cost of Shelly’s education at Chancellor University, is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to the legal field, which began as a small child watching the television show Perry Mason
Shelly’s passion for her career is infectious, and her thirst for more knowledge about anything paralegal has led her to join dozens of committees and play an active role in CCPA for more than eight years, serving on the board of directors and holding numerous offices within CCPA.
It’s hard to imagine, then, how such a busy person can juggle work, multiple committees, family, friends and school. But for Shelly, this is an opportunity she has waited a lifetime to see through. In her essay she writes:
There are times when I think I am too old to go back to school. On reflection, I realize I have a choice. This time next year, I will be one year older regardless of what I do today. However, if I start this new journey today, I will be one year closer to my goal than simply being only one year older.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, particularly getting used to studying again. But I am so looking forward to it,” said Shelly.
Like a lot of Chancellor students, the biggest adjustment may just come in the form of online classes.
“This is my first online course,” Shelly said. “I’ve done a lot of continuing education and pod casts, but this is totally new.”
Fortunately, the staff at Chancellor has been hard at work easing her transition. Even before classes began, she and her fellow classmates were required to take the CU 101 Chancellor Student Success course, which helps acclimate new students to various tools featured in Chancellor’s online learning arsenal.
“It was impressive how they set it up and how much effort they put into making me feel comfortable in this environment.” Shelly added. “I even started reading the text ahead of time.”
That kind of passion and zeal for learning, so evident when speaking to her and in reading her essay, has served as motivation to continuously push forward over the years and will only help her along the way to earning her bachelor’s degree.
On the profession she loves so much, Shelly says, “I love what I do. And the more you educate yourself in this field, the more you enjoy it and the better you’ll be at your job.”
Shelly’s inspiring essay can be read in the upcoming issue of the National Paralegal Reporter
, available this November.
For more information about Chancellor University's paralegal program, please contact CUadmissions@ChancellorU.edu
. To find out about our financial aid and scholarship opportunities, please email FinancialAid@ChancellorU.edu