The heart of Central College has focused on supporting students. Lemuel Addison Garrison, 10th president of Central (1900-1909) and an 1896 graduate of the college, understood and instilled that social responsibility into students as well as his children and grandchildren. The L.A. Garrison Scholarship for the Nontraditional Learner represents five family members who all share the L.A.G. initials and a belief in supporting nontraditional and nontypical learners.
Lars Garrison, grandson of the late Central president, initiated the scholarship in 1981 reflecting upon his father Lemuel Alonzo’s and his own learning struggles.
“We had learning challenges, but someone recognized the potential and good in us,” he says. “Others have lifted us up to be useful in society.” The L.A. Garrison Scholarship for the Nontraditional Learner can serve as a lift to students who have not taken a traditional path to Central after high school. The heart of the scholarship is to help students who may have personal or life obstacles to overcome while demonstrating potential for college success.
Madilynn Peitzman ’25, an art education major from Altoona, Iowa, and recipient of the L.A. Garrison Scholarship for the Nontraditional Learner in 2021-22, says the opportunity to study at Central brings so many opportunities.
“I had a four-year career in the beauty industry as a nail artist. It wasn’t as fulfilling as I wanted it to be,” Peitzman says. “Now, I’m going into elementary art education to pursue a different way to live my passion and help people.” She enjoys the open-mindedness of elementary-aged children. “I really like hanging out with the elementary kids because they haven’t been told how to think yet. They’re so open, curious and imaginative. I really like that,” she says.
As a former nail artist, Peitzman might notice other women’s nails, but she laughingly admits, “I’m incognito now. I have clay nails! No one will know I was a nail artist to the elite of Des Moines a year ago. My hands are messy.
“I did a clay project in a 3D problem-solving art class with Brian Roberts ’92 (professor of art). The 3D problem-solving class involves using a material, like clay, to solve an issue and reimagine creativity. I finished a cookie jar, inspired by architecture. It’s not a replica of an A-frame home, more it is an inspiration of the traditional framework you may see with large, vaulted windows in a great room and the many triangles you can find in that type of architecture,” she chuckles.
Life is busy for the Altoona resident, who drives 45 minutes to college. She works 25 hours a week as a UPS dispatch for the evening routes in addition to completing the full-time, first-year curriculum at Central that included 25 hours of education observation during the Spring 2022 semester.
“Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to Central. I think I’ll get a better education here,” Peitzman says. “I love the small class sizes, genuine people and the energy that our professors put into students.
“I really felt like I’d made the right decision just a few weeks into my classes. I don’t live on campus and was in the Maytag Student Center the first weekend trying to get a meal plan. I must have looked lost or confused. Matt Diehl ’87 (Student Support Services program coordinator) approached me and asked what I was looking for. He introduced himself and let me know about student services and all the things they offered.
“When I was in high school, from 2012-2015, mental health diagnoses were not taken as seriously as they are now. I thought, ‘Wow, other people have things and it isn’t something to be ashamed about,” Peitzman says. “I talked to him about my ADHD, among other things that make me an SSS member, like being a first-generation student. And it made me feel so included right away.” Student Support Services helped Peitzman feel cared for that first year.
“SSS really made a huge impact, helping get my books or school supplies I needed,” Peitzman adds. “The staff helped me get textbooks on my iPad so I can have them read aloud to me. It is night and day on comprehension, and SSS was there for everything I needed. I am so thankful for looking confused and the help of Matt Diehl.”