Student Story

Beth Shironaka

Texarkana, AR
M.Ed. in Adult and Lifelong Learning

Beth Shironaka

“I feel we’re all lifelong learners, and adults learn differently than children. They have different mindsets. They’re not so passive, they’re active, and that’s really the main thing.”

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Lifelong Learning from Across the Globe

Beth Shironaka is no stranger to online learning. Having pursued online learning since 2016, she is well-versed in the online student experience. After completing her liberal arts degree in 2021, she chose to continue her education with an online Master of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning degree through the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions.

“It fits my lifestyle,” Shironaka said. “Lifelong learning is really what I do. Most of us are lifelong learners, but it resonated with me.”

Residing in Texarkana, Arkansas, Shironaka has been able to put her education and experiences to use developing distance learning curriculum for the Good Work Foundation.

“I like wild animals,” Shironaka said, “and the Good Work Foundation is affiliated with the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. They have established a circular economy, which I thought was really interesting and also fits the premise of eco-tourism which is what they promote. It also incorporates the local people, the Shangaan people, in South Africa.”

A circular economy is an economic system based on the regeneration of materials and products.

“Londolozi incorporates the same features common to all circular economies in that they approach living as a wholistic experience,” Shironaka said. “Their main tenet is that life on the reserve thrives, which includes the wildlife predominantly but humans also. The local community are part of this collective vision. Many work at Londolozi and are educated at the educational facilities, which are the Good Work Foundation and the Tracker Academy.”

Shironaka helped develop a Digital Footprint curriculum for adult learners. When it comes to designing curriculum for students halfway across the world, “It helps to have a good lesson plan,” Shironaka said. “I don’t really want to teach, you know, stand up in front of the class and teach. I enjoy putting together the details of the program or a lesson, so that’s what I want to do.”

Shironaka is a recipient of the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship, awarded by the Global Campus to students who are studying in online degree programs.

“Well, I was surprised,” Shironaka said, “because I’ve never received a scholarship before. I have a lot of awards for academics, I’ve been on the Chancellor’s list and on the Dean’s list, I had a 4.0 grade point average. Excelling in academia is important to me… but nevertheless, I was surprised that I was awarded a scholarship.”

When it comes to studying online, Shironaka had some advice to share: “You have to have a lot of patience, actually,” Shironaka said, “and determination. That’s either way, whether you’re online or not. But also you have to be kind of independent, because you're not going to see a lot of people, and you’re not going to establish a lot of relationships.”

Upon the completion of her degree this fall, Shironaka plans to continue her education, living out her philosophy through practice, with a Ph.D. in educational leadership.

“I feel we’re all lifelong learners,” Shironaka said, “and adults learn differently than children. They have different mindsets. They’re not so passive, they’re active, and that’s really the main thing.”