Sturdevant earns state recognition
In 2006, Stacy Sturdevant was at the lowest point in her life and almost died twice. In 2014 she was named one of the top five of about 14,000 Kirkwood students and is on her way to the honors history program at the University of Iowa.
Sturdevant was recently honored along with four other students as being named to the All-Iowa Academic Team. She said she had received a letter in October 2013, informing her that she had been nominated for a scholarship opportunity. A non-traditional student, she said that she is always looking for scholarship money to offset costs. She said that she was doing an honors project in November on the main Kirkwood campus. At the end of the presentation, the announcement was made that she had been named to the all-academic team.
“I was stunned,” she said. “I didn’t really quite comprehend what the honor entailed, so I didn’t share with anyone what had happened.”
She was recognized at the Kirkwood campus in Des Moines. Sturdevant said that she was honored when old friends Jim and Karen Gorham attended the ceremony and sat at the same table as she did. Karen Gorham is a member of the Kirkwood board of directors.
Only five students, or fewer, are selected every year for the honor. U.S.A. Today started the program and originally it was only open to four-year universities. Eventually community colleges were added. Now, the community college team is the only team that is active. The winners qualify for the All-National Academic Team. Sturdevant said that she was not selected for this honor.
“She was the only Washington County student selected this year,” Kirkwood Washington director Tera Pickens said. “The other representatives are from the main campus. It is an honor for a student to be selected from a county center, much less our own Washington County student.”
Graduating from Washington High School in 1983, Sturdevant attended a graphic arts program at Kirkwood in Iowa City in 1984. She worked in the field for about five years before returning to college for a bachelor’s degree. She attended Morningside for about a year before giving college up to get married and start a family. The couple farmed for most of their 25 years together. Sturdevant said that she has two daughters and a son, all of whom are grown.
“About four years ago the kids were all out of the house, I found myself divorced and I needed something else to do,” she said. “When I decided I could work full time again, it was hard to find employment in the area. I was either overqualified or not qualified enough.”
Sturdevant also said that in 2006 her life had “turned upside down.” She explained that health issues had caused her OB-GYN to recommend Depot Lupron injections, after which she was hospitalized about six times. After getting a second opinion, she received a hysterectomy. She said that she believes the Depot Lupron and the shock of her body going into instant menopause caused her to have a nervous breakdown. She said between 2006 and 2008 she had two suicide attempts.
“I have had a lot of struggling and climbing to get back up,” she said. “For so long I didn’t talk about a mental illness because it holds such a stigma in public. When I started working at dodici’s shop, Lorraine Williams was key to a lot of my recovery. They took a chance on me and gave me a part-time job and I really came out of my shell.”
She said that as she met people and discussed mental illness more, and those other people had begun talking to her about their experiences.
For the last year, Sturdevant has advocated people considering Depot Lupron treatments to not let physicians talk them into the treatment without getting all the information available, as well as a second opinion.
“For me to get to this point in my life now is a really big accomplishment for me,” she said.
She had always known that she would return to college. After some discussions with the faculty at Kirkwood’s Washington campus, she returned in 2011. She took her first class in math and decided college was a good fit.
“It was terrifying coming back,” she said. “When I graduated from high school I did not consider myself intelligent enough. In the last five years I have discovered I have some learning disabilities and ADD. That in itself terrified me. After taking that first class in math, which I never understood in school, I was getting A’s.”
She also credits the skills she learned at the community college — both the work-related skills and life skills — with benefiting her greatly at every job she had. She graduates in May with a liberal arts degree.
Sturdevant says that she has a strong desire to learn everything she can. Members of her family have given her the nickname “Question Girl.” She said that she has been surprised at the connectivity that she has found between seemingly unrelated items. She said that each class increases her vision of the “big picture” with every class she takes.
“If I could be a professional student and get paid to do it, I would be the first one in line,” she said.
Sturdevant said she has already been accepted to the University of Iowa’s honors history program. Her goal is to become a historical archivist, although she said that she plans to continue to take as many college courses as she can. She is also involved in Phi Theta Cappa, which is Kirkwood’s international honor society.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing ‘Dr.’ in front of my name,” she said.