Wilkes University Honors Rebekah Cleary with the Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Award

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2021 Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Rebekah Cleary

Wilkes University recently named Rebekah Cleary of Edwardsville, Pa., as the recipient of the Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Award for 2021. Cleary graduated in January of 2021 with a bachelor of science degree in accounting and a 3.39 GPA.

She is currently enrolled in the University’s 4+1 MBA program that allows students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. She started her first two MBA classes while completing the coursework for her undergraduate degree.

Karen Alessi, associate director of the MBA program at Wilkes, nominated Cleary for the Outstanding Adult Learner honor and acts as her academic advisor. “She jokes about always making things work regardless of the obstacles ahead. In my opinion, she is doing them successfully,” says Alessi of the award recipient. “I am glad I get to continue working with Bekah as her academic advisor at Wilkes.”

Cleary discovered her love for accounting in ninth grade at Elmer L. Meyers Junior/Senior High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., working with two other students to convince their teacher to offer a higher-level accounting course. “In the long run, I thought accounting would offer really good opportunities and be a really good money-maker for the future,” says Cleary.

She completed her bachelor’s degree while working the overnight in Wilkes University’s facilities department. Cleary recorded lectures so she could listen to them on her headphones while she worked at night and scheduled classes so she could catch up on homework and sleep during the day while her daughters were in school. “If you want it, you’ve got to earn it,” Cleary says.

Cleary was chosen for an internship position with United One Resources, a mortgage processing company in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., shortly before COVID-19 hit in 2020. Though the pandemic negatively impacted her internship activities on site, the company hired her as a full-time accounts payable clerk, then promoted her to a junior accountant position when she graduated.

Cleary credits the faculty and staff at Wilkes with encouraging her and helping her continue her education and earn her degree while juggling family and work responsibilities.

“They pushed me when I didn’t even know I could be pushed. Don’t be afraid to follow your dream. My dream was to graduate from a university.”

rebekah cleary
2021 outstanding Adult Learner of the Year

About the Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Award
The Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Award is sponsored by the Luzerne County Council on Adult Higher Education (LCCAHE), a coalition of area colleges and universities focused on continuing education for today’s professionals. Members of LCCAHE are King’s College, Luzerne County Community College, Misericordia University, Penn State Wilkes-Barre and Wilkes University. For thirty-two years, participating institutions have named an award recipient who has overcome adversity and continued to excel academically.

About Wilkes University
Wilkes University is a private, independent, non-sectarian institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs. Founded in 1933, Wilkes is on a mission to create one of the nation’s finest doctoral universities, offering all of the programs, activities and opportunities of a large university in the intimate, caring and mentoring environment of a small college, open to all who show promise. The Brookings Institution ranked Wilkes 14th in the nation for middle-class mobility. In addition to 45 majors, Wilkes offers 24 master’s degree programs and five doctoral/terminal degree programs, including the doctor of philosophy in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, doctor of pharmacy, and master of fine arts in creative writing. Learn more at www.wilkes.edu.

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