Published 12:27 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

LBW classes helped Thomas find her passion. Now she’s traveling the world.

Shannon Thomas of Andalusia, LBW Community College alumna, turned her passion for art into an opportunity to travel the world.

Spending the last two years in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) teaching art, she soon heads to Hanoi in Vietnam on a teaching assignment.

“In 2006, I was just getting divorced and with no education beyond high school, and I was cleaning houses to make a living,” she said. “I knew I needed more education if I was going to pull myself off the dead-end road I was on.”

The convenience of LBWCC in Andalusia allowed her to enroll in classes while continuing to work, and financial aid guidance helped her afford the cost, she said.

Initially, she had no idea what course of study she would pursue.

“My lifelong love of art led me to start taking some art classes,” she said. “At first, just for fun, but after a few classes and some encouragement from Misti Purvis (art faculty) and other great instructors, I had decided that art was the path.”

While at LBWCC, she was involved in helping organize art shows and receptions, and participating in art competitions. She won first prize in sculpture in the 2008 Chancellor’s Art Exhibition, a competition open to students from all colleges within the Alabama Community College System.

The foundational classes at LBW and computer equipment used in the art studio prepared her well to transfer to Troy University for higher level classes, she said.

“Without LBWCC having this equipment, I would have been at a severe disadvantage when I arrived in Troy.”

She completed a Bachelor of Science in Education at Troy, then gained experience by teaching four years in Alabama public schools.

“At this point, I decided it was time for a new change and I started applying for jobs outside of the USA,” she said. “Traveling has been a lifelong goal and this job has afforded me the opportunity to travel all over.”

While working overseas, she visited Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Oman, and Turkey. Now she is headed to Vietnam.

“I will teach art again at another international school in Hanoi. I am looking forward to all the new travel opportunities this move will bring to me and none of this would have been possible if I had not taken that first class at LBWCC.”

LBWCC President Dr. Herb Riedel said he is always thrilled to hear of the success of former students.

“We are so proud of her accomplishments. She achieved a lot here at LBW, taking control of her life through education. She certainly serves as a great role model for anyone who doubts they can be successful in college.”