When Lucie Jeneske came to America from the Czech Republic in 2000, she barely spoke English. She had earned an accounting certification from the Czech Republic — similar to a CPA here — but when she got to Delaware, she had to start over.
She landed at Delaware Technical Community College as an accounting major, where she met tutor Kathy Stuhlman, who happens to be married to Don Stuhlman, WilmU’s chair of finance programs in the College of Business. Kathy suggested to Jeneske that she consider finishing her four-year degree at WilmU.
Jeneske thrived at WilmU, earning the Award for Academic Excellence. “There were 126 graduates from the business division in that January 2006 graduation,” says Don Stuhlman, who wrote Jeneske’s nomination in 2005. It included the following thoughts:
“While not all of her grades have been A’s, I can speak to the two demanding classes that I had Lucie as a student: FIN 305: Financial Management, and BBM 402: Strategic Management, the Division of Business capstone course. Her course average in FIN 305, 104.2 percent (with bonus material), is the highest grade in that course in recent memory (10-plus years). Her major case project in BBM 402 is not only the best I have seen in the 16-plus years I have taught the course, but it is so comprehensive that I am hesitant to show her project to future classes, afraid that it would intimidate them.”
Jeneske, whose married name is now Stairs, landed a job at Chesapeake Utilities as an accounting assistant but left to pursue a financial administrator post at Delaware State University. There, she teaches the same accounting course that terrified her years back. She’s an adjunct for WilmU as well.
The WilmU alumna credits Don Stuhlman for her academic success, and will be forever thankful for his support. “Don encouraged me to reach out to him if I needed any help with looking for a job or professional references,” she says. “I can’t tell you how encouraging this was. It was the first time someone truly offered to help me — someone truly believed in me and my work.”
On Dec. 22, Stairs was sworn in as a United States citizen. “The decision to do that was not about forgetting where I came from,” she says. “It was about where I want to live, my new family and friends, and where I want to work and grow professionally. The United States is a great country with people from all over the world. It’s a place where I always felt I belonged.”WU