Small-business owner reinvents herself at UA


Whether Juanita Ward is volunteering as the Lake Township Relay For Life event chair, starting a new career from scratch, or achieving success as a nontraditional student, she sets the example of hope.

The University of Akron

Juanita Ward

Recognized nationally for her accomplishments as a nontraditional student, Ward was named Outstanding Alumna of Developmental Education by the National Association of Developmental Education.

A goal to return to school

Since her high school days, Ward doubted she would ever return to school. Instead, she combined her knack for bookkeeping and her talent as an artist and opened a cake bakery on Akron’s Arlington Road.

After operating the business for 12 years, Ward’s cake shop crumbled. At that time, her youngest daughter, Angelita, a Clemson University graduate, urged her mother to “add a new layer to her life.” With added support from her son, Jeramie, Ward enrolled in developmental courses at The University of Akron’s Summit College in pursuit of a business management technology associate degree.

Ninety-five percent of UA adult students enroll in developmental courses such as College Reading and Study Skills, Basic Math and Basic Writing to ease the transition to college-level courses, according to Sandie Crawford, director of Developmental Programs at UA.

“Ward is a wonderful example of why we need to be here to help students make the transition,” Crawford says.

Path to a bachelor's degree

With the help of her writing instructor Rebecca McDonald, Ward rebuilt confidence in her academic abilities.  The chance to change her life for the better propelled her to earn two associate degrees and currently work toward a bachelor’s degree.

As a full-time administrative assistant in the Summit College academic advising office, Ward encourages fellow students to follow their dreams and to realize their self-confidence through such programs as Student Appreciation Day.

“Hopefully I will have a positive impact on people’s lives,” Ward says. “There is always hope.”

 Story by Theresa Augustin.

Over 25 and thinking of college? Consider UA!

If you are over 25 and considering college, we have many resources to assist you.

Adult Focus is a department devoted to helping make the transition to college (or back to college) easy, from enrollment through graduation.

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Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or