The WilmU family that studies together succeeds together. Meet the Baurys family.
Tamra Baurys and her children, Eric and Alexa, each completed their Wilmington University degree programs in May of 2020: Tamra, with a doctorate in Educational Leadership; Eric, an MBA; and Alexa, a bachelor’s in Elementary Education. Through it all, they managed to both love and like each other.
Tamra, who is celebrating her 30th anniversary as a teacher at Greensboro Elementary School in Maryland, had already earned two master’s degrees from then-Wilmington College: one in School Leadership and Instruction; the other in Literacy. A proud WilmU ambassador, she loves the University for several reasons.
“But I have to say that flexibility is number one,” Tamra says. “It’s about the continuum of classes, not taking long breaks, and those seven-week blocks. Flexibility allowed us all to finish at the same time.”
Perseverance is part of this genealogy. Tamra had started her doctoral program in 2004, taking two classes at a time. “But I got a wake-up call when my dad passed away,” she says. “It was my sign to take a break from the program. I left the cohort and knew that when the time was right, I’d finish.”
That time came in 2016, when she joined Cohort 26 in Dover. “It was challenging working full-time and juggling assignments,” she says, “but I was with two others in the School Leadership track, and we got to be great friends. I loved the group projects, and we all benefitted from them.”
Tragedy struck again when Tamra’s sister Denise died in the fall of 2018. “My teachers and especially Dr. Joseph Crossen were very accommodating,” she says. “I was able to do all my work online and be with my sister before she passed. I will always be grateful for that.”
She kept in close contact with her classmates. “I asked a lot of questions and kept the communication open with my teachers and Dr. Crossen.”
Dr. Crossen, the chair of Educational Leadership for the College of Education, ended up being Tamra’s dissertation chair. “She showed her leadership the first night of the first class,” he says.
Dissertation topics could focus on things the cohort was passionate about, so Tamra chose dogs — one of hers, Molly, is a certified therapy dog. “My main purpose was to visit retirement homes and assisted living facilities,” says Tamra. “I didn’t realize Molly would eventually be the subject of my dissertation. She was sitting in front of me the whole time when I defended. I used her in my classroom and had permission to bring Molly with me to WilmU every Tuesday. My attendance rate was best on Tuesdays, coincidentally.”
When the school year ended, Tamra crafted her dissertation, Perceptions of the Use of a Therapy Dog in the Classroom.
“Tamra’s cohort mates were tentative, but she led the activity and got them all to get involved,” says Dr. Crossen. “As the dissertation loomed, it was Tamra who nudged and encouraged the others not to give up. I never thought I would chair a dissertation on therapy animals in the classroom, but there we were, Tamra and Molly the Therapy Wonder Dog. I’ll always remember the photo of the little girl reading to Molly and Molly in rapt attention.”
Alexa and Eric
Alexa had started her studies at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, then transferred first to Delaware Technical Community College, then WilmU. She was a student teacher at Kent County Community School and now works there full-time, serving children with special needs. “Moving full-speed ahead on her master’s in Special Education at WilmU, Alexa has done 10 classes in a year,” Tamra adds. “She plans to complete that degree in spring 2021. She’s a worker.”
“My bachelor’s in Elementary Education and dual certification in Special Education have helped me with my first year of teaching immensely,” Alexa says. “Having the dual certification has made me so prepared for teaching Special Education. I learned a ton of things during my undergrad (program) that have prepared me for a great first year of teaching. The practicum experiences I had during my undergraduate experience helped me to get comfortable with working in the classroom and made teaching feel natural when this school year rolled around.”
Her brother Eric, a gas analyst at Chesapeake Utilities in Dover, is also thriving. After completing his Finance degree from the University of Delaware in 2017, he wanted to graduate with his sister and mother, working feverishly to earn his WilmU MBA. “The MBA has allowed for further discussions and possible opportunities within my company to put my degree to use,” Eric says.
WilmU was the right choice for the Baurys family. Alexa chose to pursue her master’s here largely because of familiarity and comfort. “I had a very enjoyable undergraduate experience and knew my graduate experience would be the same way,” she says. “I have had a lot of amazing teachers through Wilmington University, both in my undergraduate experience as well as my graduate experience so far.”
Eric enjoyed “its location and flexible schedule since I was still full-time at my current job,” he says. “The professors were all personable, and there were great discussions using real-life examples for the applicability of what we were learning.”
My bachelor’s in Elementary Education and dual certification in Special Education have helped me with my first year of teaching immensely.”
“WilmU was definitely a lot more flexible,” says Alexa. “I love online classes and was able to complete almost my entire undergrad online through WilmU. I am also able to complete my entire graduate program online, which is a huge plus for me since I’m teaching full-time. While I had great professors at the other institutions, I’ve found that the professors at WilmU have been more helpful, understanding, and eager to teach and see success in their students.”
COVID-19 didn’t make it any easier for the family to stay sane while pursuing their academic goals. They managed to keep loving and liking each other.
“It was awesome,” Alexa says. “I really enjoyed seeing us all reach our respective goals at the same time.”
“We applaud every student for reaching their academic goals,” says Wilmington University President Dr. LaVerne T. Harmon. “But it’s not every day that three people from the same family earn their degrees together, and we admire the way they supported each other throughout their journeys. I offer my sincere congratulations to the Baurys family.”
The operative word being family. The ties that bind are stronger than ever for the Bauryses. “It definitely was an interesting experience having all three of us in school at the same time and all going for varying levels of degrees,” Eric says. “I’m very proud of both of them.”