March 30, 2023
Story and photo by Joe Vinduska
This is part three of a series on the importance of academic integrity at Barton. The college will feature student stories throughout the spring semester that help showcase values of academic integrity. These values include trust, responsibility, honesty, courage, fairness, and respect.
Barton at Fort Leavenworth student Tionna Caldwell knows the value of respect goes beyond her personal endeavors. She believes it is imperative to exhibit and reciprocate it not only as she finishes her education, but also as she pursues her career as a dental hygienist.
“Academic integrity is important to me personally because doing the work is a fundamental part of the process,” she said. “Establishing longevity in my career starts with me doing the work. Today’s society has so many cheat codes and life hacks, but my educational credentials are part of my foundation. It is unethical to manipulate your academic credentials.”
Caldwell, 27, did not go to college after high school due to having to work. She moved from Washington, D.C. to Leavenworth to help her mother care for her grandmother and landed a job as a Department of Defense Employee at a daycare on Fort Leavenworth, and in doing so, she qualified for Barton’s LSEC classes that she could take at no cost.
“I just work, work, worked,” she said. “My whole family always has. I can't even think back to a generation that has gone to college or finished college, and I just realized I have to stop this process and decide what I want from my own life. On a piece of paper, it sounds so simple, but I really had to learn how to advocate for myself. I learned how to articulate to superiors and even some of my family that put barriers in my academic process. Furthering my education is a form of self-care for my mental health. I had adopted a stoic personality starting the process of going back to school. However, after a couple of classes and joining Phi Theta Kappa (National Honor Society) I have had a phenomenal academic experience. From the inside looking out, there is a much more raw and redemptive story than people see from the outside.”
Caldwell started with a personal finance class that served as a springboard for her.
“That class helped get my life right,” she said. “We did a group project about living costs, like all the different insurances and owning a home, and I realized, wow, I need to get my finances together. It was just a really good wake-up call for me.”
Her time at Barton helped her reflect on how integrity and respect fit into her personal life, but also how these virtues are important for academic institutions to keep as a visible priority.
“Respect plays a role in academic integrity because of how much self-development takes place for students while enrolled,” she said. “At an educational institution, people have to remain impartial and open-minded. A new platform of ideas will be introduced. Acknowledging our instructors, mentors, and classmates and showing them respect is essential because of their academic influence, and it is at the core of our very own decency. Learning how to enter a conversation with confidence and being selective of the dialogue that comes out of my mouth is evidence of how respect has been productive in my life. I once was enabled by my emotions but with self-development, I have realized respect is a universal language.”
For more information, contact Director of Innovation & Compliance Lee Miller at (620) 786-7453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.