Follow Us On:

Elsberrian makes history with Governor Nixon

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

Governor Nixon made history last week as he gave his final State of the State address since he has reached term limits as governor this term.

During that speech he gave Elsberry resident, Rebecca Balfanz an opportunity to make history as well, as he mentioned her by name in his address because of her participation at WGU Missouri and her resilience to meet a lifelong goal.


Rebecca Balfanz with her family, husband Fred, and children Meredith and Nick.

Nixon described Balfanz as a mother who grew up in foster care and is now on track to finish her degree in elementary education from WGU-Missouri, earlier than planned, to make life better for her kids.

Balfanz stated that, “going back to college was something I always dreamed of doing.  Earning a degree that will allow me to work with children is my dream.  I’m proud to be able to show my kids that you can achieve your dreams with a little support and a lot of hard work.”

Obtaining this dream hasn’t been an easy road for Balfanz.

As a married mother of two children she has encountered several significant challenges in her life, including having a sick husband who had to undergo a kidney transplant.

Having a flexible and affordable education option like WGU-Missouri has allowed her to stay focused on graduating and pursuing a career in teaching.

WGU-Missouri was contacted by the Governor’s communications director to receive a referral of someone who has benefited from this college.  The Chancellor of WGU-Missouri offered up Balfanz as a candidate.

“The fact that my Chancellor thought highly enough of me to suggest me to the Governor is an honor. That the governor thought enough of what she said to include me in his final State of the State address is exciting and humbling”, Balfanz said.

WGU-Missouri was established in Feb. 2013 by Gov. Jay Nixon, in partnership with national Western Governors University (WGU), as the state’s only fully online, competency-based university.

For students like Balfanz, who don’t live close to a brick and mortar school and have previously struggled to earn their degrees, the university is often a great fit.

The competency-based model allows students to work at their own pace and take advantage of prior learning and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn.

Balfanz is currently finishing her classes so that she will be able to do her student teaching in the fall.