The new director of Native American Student Services at Colorado State University knows what perseverance is all about.
Beverly Fenton, who started her duties in mid-June, was a single parent, a nontraditional student and the first member of her family to attend college when she decided in 1989 to complete her education at Eastern Illinois University. Over the course of her accelerated college career – she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1990 and a master’s degree in counseling and student administration in 1991 – she received straight A’s.
She plans to put her personal and professional experiences to work in her new job at Native American Student Services, where students can find a wealth of services, support and counseling.
Fenton, who previously had worked for seven years at the University of Utah, said she applied for the job here because she wanted to work again with Native American students.
"For the past year I ran a statewide program that helped minorities develop math, engineering and science skills," she said. "But I really missed working with students in all facets of higher education. I think the university offers a wonderful environment for students to grow and discover their special interests."
From 1991-1997, Fenton was Native American student adviser at the University of Utah, where she was responsible for developing and implementing student retention plans, academic advising and counseling and internship and volunteer programs.
Fenton was born and raised in a small town in central Illinois. After high school, she started college but left to pursue other interests. She moved for a year to an old miner’s cabin about 17 miles north of Fairbanks in Alaska, and it proved to be an experience that renewed her life.
"I had a difficult time finding a real purpose for going to school because I was not certain what I wanted to do," she said. "Alaska was cold and remote but it was the most glorious place in the world. The experience helped me find my identity and purpose as a native person, which is one reason I feel I have a lot to give this office.
"Many students say they don’t know what to do, what studies to pursue, but I think the answer is to allow them enough room to explore all the options and decide for themselves what truly interests them."
Fenton is from the Chippewa tribe and is a member of the Multicultural Committee of the American College Personnel Association, the Phi Delta Kappa Honorary Education Society and the National Indian Education Association.
Her husband, David Fenton, died in 1987; her son, Kyle Fenton, is 18 years old.