Wilkes University Honors Cristina Spradlin with the Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Award

by Kelly Clisham
Pictured (left to right); Ellen Newell, Associate Professor of Psychology; Cristina Spradlin, Wilkes University's Outstanding Adult Learner; Amy Patton, Associate Director of Admissions.

Wilkes University recently named Cristina Spradlin of Exeter, Pa., as the recipient of the Outstanding Adult Learner of the Year Award for 2023. Spradlin will graduate on Saturday, May 20, with a bachelor of arts in psychology.

While Spradlin initially attended college after graduating from Wyoming Area, a change in housing situation required her to work both a full-time and part-time job to support herself. When her schoolwork suffered, Spradlin decided to set her education aside until she could give it the focus it deserved. “After my first semester, I made the decision to stop going to school until I felt stable enough, both environmentally and financially, to apply again,” says Spradlin.

Spradlin enrolled at Luzerne County Community College, earning an associate’s degree in psychology. She then transferred to Wilkes to pursue her bachelor’s degree, working with Ellen Newell, associate professor of psychology, as her academic advisor and research supervisor.

Their research project explores whether anger resulting from being discriminated against can spark people to take steps to help reduce discrimination through participation in activism. Spradlin assists in all phases of the project including review of previously published research, analysis and writing.

“Cristina is one of the best students I have worked with,” says Newell. “I am extremely excited to see what Cristina will do after she graduates, but I also seriously mourn the fact that she won’t be working in my lab next year.”

According to Newell, Spradlin stands out not only because of her academic excellence, but her ability to connect coursework to her understanding of the community around her. Spradlin’s connection to the local area also shines through her volunteer work as a yoga teacher. She’s taught classes and raised funds for Ruth’s Place, Catherine McAuley House, Blue Chip Animal Refuge, St. Vincent de Paul’s Soup Kitchen and Candy’s Place. “Having the opportunity to work hands-on with those in need within our community has provided me with compassion, understanding and immense gratitude,” says Spradlin.

As commencement approaches, Spradlin remains committed to enhancing her future through education. She plans to enroll in a doctoral program with the goal of a career as a clinical psychologist. “With not much more than a heart full of ambition and the commitment to achieve anything I set my mind to, I have created an extremely successful academic career, while simultaneously supporting myself,” says Spradlin. “I look forward to my future every day.”

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.

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