Southeast Missouri State University

Lilbourn Native and Southeast Student Plans to Give Back to Small Communities

Business Administration

Southeast Missouri State University student Kristin Thomas of Lilbourn, Mo., graduated from New Madrid County High School in 2006. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public administration at Southeast and will graduate in December of 2013. She also earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University.

Thomas said her time in college has not always been easy, but with the help of God, family, friends and Southeast’s TRiO programs, which are grant-funded programs committed to providing educational opportunities for students, she has been able to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

While attending school full-time and being a mother, Thomas worked three jobs that required her to be available late at night and on weekends and holidays.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2011 were my first holidays spent home. It was such a great feeling to be able to spend quality time with my son and the rest of my family. Sometimes it was very difficult to manage motherhood, school and work, but between God, family, friends, and the TriO programs here at Southeast, I had the best system of support that anyone can ever think of. Because of them, I have become successful at everything I have sought to accomplish,” she said.

Thomas is employed at the University as a graduate assistant in Academic Support Centers, where she meets with students to assess their academic progress and gives them tips on how to succeed and become financially literate.

“I make sure they are aware of all of the resources located on campus, including tutorial and counseling services. Another objective of mine is to inform students of the administrative processes that occur here at Southeast. I also provide financial literacy seminars, and their topics include budgeting, savings, credit and even financial planning. These are essential concepts that students should learn early in life. I plan to do another one before I graduate,” she said. “I love my job and would like to continue with a more supervisory role, so that I can gain more professional development and field experience.”

She is currently keeping abreast of the career opportunities at the national headquarters for the Boys & Girls Club of America. In the future, she said she would like to use the skills she is developing now in aiding in the execution of the organization’s national strategy, focusing on financial literacy.

Also in the future, Thomas plans to give back to small communities. “I plan to start my own nonprofit organization, which will promote academic, professional and financial development for youth in low-income rural areas, similar to communities in the Bootheel. This should also provide new employment and volunteer opportunities for the area. This may change, but the way things are moving, I’m right on schedule,” she said.