Las Vegas, N.M. – The Las Vegas chapter of the American Association of University Women awarded a $2,000 scholarship to a stellar nontraditional Highlands University student.
Patti Dobbe, 58, retired in 2014 after a 30-year career in criminal justice as a probation officer and administrator. She is on track to complete her master’s degree in professional counseling from Highlands after summer term 2017, with a 4.0 GPA to date.
“Patti fits one of the AAUW scholarship criteria of being a nontraditional woman who returns to Highlands to complete a new professional goal and is exceling academically,” said Carol Winkel, AAUW scholarship co-chair for the Las Vegas chapter. “She worked with difficult offenders in probati0n and parole during her first career. Now, she is extremely committed to making an impact as a professional counselor.”
Winkel said the Las Vegas AAUW Scholarship Program for Highlands University women is funded entirely through the organization’s annual used book sales.
“I recognize the potential for positive change in every human being and want to help people who are having trouble maintaining prosocial lifestyles,” Dobbe said. “With this master’s degree, my biggest goal is to help heal the dysfunction in families that can filter down through the generations.”
Dobbe earned her B.A. in criminal justice, as well as her master of public administration with a human service concentration, from North Texas State University. She rose through the ranks in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Parole Division.
Dobbe also served more than 20 years with the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, leading the Northern District of Texas as the supervising U.S. probation officer before her retirement.
“The most valuable aspect of my graduate studies at Highlands was learning to listen for the true underlying story of people’s problems. The counseling professors at Highlands have been very receptive to my experience. They helped me refine my skills to shift from giving advice and direction as a probation officer to being a counselor who works with people to let them find their own solutions,” Dobbe said.
For the Dobbes, the Highlands graduate degree in professional counseling in the School of Education is a family affair. Patti’s husband, Chris, is also a retired probation officer and on schedule to complete his M.A in summer 2017. Their son, Noah, earned his M.A. in the same program in May 2016.
“Attending Highlands has broadened all our horizons about different professional counseling tracks that would be a good fit for each of us,” Patti said.
Patti and Chris Dobbe have used their expertise to contribute to the Las Vegas community, facilitating a nondenominational grief support group at the Plaza Hotel.
“This grief support group helps fill a void in the community, honoring a person at whatever stage their grief is present,” Patti said.
In 2009, the couple purchased a cabin in the scenic Mineral Hill area near Las Vegas with the intent of using it as a retirement home.
“Mineral Hill is such a beautiful area and Las Vegas feels like home. But neither of us was ready to retire. I think this professional counseling degree is my calling. I need to follow it through to whatever path it takes,” Patti said.