Thomas University alumna Penny Griffin Gaskins of Willacoochee recently took the reign Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society as the organization's national president for the 2022-2024 term. Alpha Sigma Lambda is the honor society for non-traditional students that partners with colleges and universities to celebrate the scholarship and leadership of adult students in higher education.
"It is truly an honor to be elected as president of such a prestigious society that understands the importance of an adult learner and what a difference education can make in their lives and their communities," Gaskins said. "Adult learners overcome many hurdles as they forge their way to new beginnings for a bright future for them and their families. Along the way they demonstrate leadership and a love of knowledge. I look forward to continuing the precedent of outstanding leadership as we continue to recognize the achievements in academics and leadership of adult students."
In 2020, ASLHS celebrated 75 years of student scholarship and excellence. Over the years the honor society has recognized adult learners for their achievements and offered more than $60,000 a year in scholarships. There are currently more than 300 chapters across the nation.
Gaskins returned to Thomas University as an adult learner after 35 years and owning her own business. She was inducted as a member of the Phi Lambda chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda while pursuing a bachelor's degree in Rehabilitation Studies in Addictions. She graduated magna cum laude in the fall of 2017.
During that time Gaskins was also inducted into Alpha Chi Honor Society, which recognizes the top 10 percent of the class. She served as a member and then president of the Honor Council for three years. Gaskins received the Gale Whitehurst Pioneer Award for her leadership, work with the veterans and work the Salute Honor Society. Gaskins was named the Outstanding Graduate in the Division of Counseling and Psychology.
She went on to complete her master's degree in Clinical Mental Health and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling in the spring of 2020. She was inducted into Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society for Counseling Graduate students.
At Thomas University Gaskins found her love for higher education, veterans and helping those non-traditional students like her who were returning to school. She began her career at TU as an admissions representative working with these students sharing her moto, "It is never too late!" She currently serves as the Associate Registrar at Thomas University.
TU's Vice President for Academic Affairs appointed Gaskins as the TU chapter's counselor. She took this appointment not only to serve the honor society, but also to reach out and encourage the adults – that like her – chose to come back to school. As national president, she is working with more than 500 non-traditional students. Now more than ever, adult learners are heading back to school for career change or for the first time. ASLHS recognizes these students and helps to give them the courage and confidence to go forward.
Gaskins resides in Willacoochee, in Atkinson County, Georgia, with her husband James, where they are renovating the family farm. In their spare time, they raise Nigerian miniature goats, meat sheep, chickens, ducks and turkeys.