When Bernadine Franks (18BA) graduated from the University of Iowa in December, she fulfilled a 50-year-old promise to her mother. After having a baby at age 15 and marrying the following year, Bernadine promised her mother that someday she’d go to college. On December 15, 2018, as she walked across the stage to accept her diploma from the UI School of Social Work, the 67-year-old was backed by a legion of fans that include her children, grandchildren, co-workers, and others she’s inspired along the way.
Now, future students will benefit from Bernadine’s example. The Bernadine Franks Scholarship has been established to support a scholarship for a non-traditional, underrepresented student in the University of Iowa School of Social Work.
Sara Sanders, director of the UI School of Social Work, says this scholarship will serve as a wonderful tribute.
"Bernie was always a bright light shining in the school, a positive force, and a leader among her fellow undergraduate students. She not only brought her valuable experience into the classroom, but also matched the energy and optimism of her classmates. She became a mentor and a role model for many students, and she's someone they aspire to be like as professionals."
Although Bernadine’s journey to becoming a Hawkeye was not an easy one, she is proud of her accomplishment. “It means respect, it means showing others that if you work hard and if you believe in what you’re doing, you can achieve it. Regardless of my age, a degree from the University of Iowa carries a lot of weight.”
Read more of Bernadine's story.