A non-traditional original

Allowing students to make the most of their studies

Photo of Beverly Busta
Beverly Busta was a non-traditional student before it even had a name. Photo courtesy of Harlan Hansen

People often imagine a “college student” as an 18 year old fresh out of high school, living in a residence hall and participating in campus activities. Increasingly, however, not everyone fits that mold: 40 percent of undergraduates are considered non-traditional, with characteristics such as being older than 25 or having dependents. The late Beverly Busta was a non-traditional student before many universities even tried to accommodate that population.

Francis Busta (BS ‘57, MS ’61) met Beverly when they were in a speech class together. “She would rush into the room right before class started, and run out just when it ended,” he says. He learned that she was supporting herself while working on her degree by alternating full-time work for one quarter, then taking classes and working part-time for one quarter. Their first date was on her birthday and two months later they were married.

Francis plants a kiss on a surprised Beverly. Photo courtesy of Harlan Hansen

Beverly paused her education to earn money while Frank, a professor emeritus of food microbiology, completed his studies. She held several jobs and raised their two daughters, Erica and Suzanne. Once the children were older, Bev resumed classes at the U of M. Her adviser, Natalie Gallagher, helped her design a major that integrated business and family social science—areas that captured Beverly’s extensive work history and interests. She graduated in 1979, two decades after she started.

Tragically, Beverly was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma in the mid-1990s. She fought it valiantly for two years, utilizing the same humor and determination that had helped her complete her degree while working and caring for her husband and daughters.

The Busta family in 1970: Frank, Erica, Beverly, and Suzanne. Photo courtesy of Frank Busta

After she died in 1996, Beverly’s family followed her wishes to establish the Beverly A. Busta Memorial Scholarship. The fund supports undergraduates in Family Social Science who are taking classes in multiple disciplines and doing research or an internship, with a preference for women who are working part-time. “I want the scholarship to be big enough to take a load off, permitting students to make the most of their studies,” says Frank. “Bev could have used a scholarship like this.”

Winter 2020