Plummer Award recipient: ‘I’m so thankful for the social work program and I can’t give LU enough credit'

Brianne Ivy graduation headshot
Brianne Ivy
On Aug. 6, Lamar University conferred more than 845 degrees and certificates recognizing summer graduates for their hard work and dedication to earning their degrees. There was one graduate, however, that received a special, and unsuspecting, recognition at the ceremony.

Brianne Ivy recent graduated with her bachelor’s degree in social work and was awarded the Otho Plummer Award, an award given at commencement to the male and female in that graduating class with the highest GPA.  

“I was completely shocked when my name was called because I thought, ‘there’s just no way that I will get this award,’” Ivy said. “But I worked hard and I was so proud to get it.”

The wife and mother of two said she always knew the future held something bigger and better for her. Upon graduating high school in 2005, Ivy started taking classes at LU, but after giving birth to her eldest daughter, what was supposed to be a one-year hiatus turned into more than a decade. For the next 15 years, Ivy remained laser-focused on her family, but she hadn’t completely forgotten about her longing passion to go back to school.

After taking a few core courses at Lamar State College Port Arthur, Ivy said she was finally ready to do something big and bold. In 2019, she enrolled back into LU majoring in social work.

“I thought it would be hard because I was coming back in my mid-30s and everyone else is in their younger 20s. In the real world, you can tell that there's an age gap, but in that program, you cannot and we were just a team,” she said. “We were a family at the end of it and I learned so much. When I came over to Lamar University and joined the Social Work program, I immediately knew that's where I was supposed to be.”

During her time at LU, Ivy said she pushed herself to achieve her goals and endured several hurdles in her personal life, including the loss of her grandfather. With faculty and peers in her corner, though, she remained resilient and pressed on.

“Without even saying anything, my instructors just stepped in and really just helped me through all of that. They want their students to succeed and anytime that I felt like slacking or I let those personal struggles creep in, my professor would say, ‘No,’ and they would help me shake it off. They would just step in and be that support system.” Brianne Ivy with husband and son

Still in shock of her new award, Ivy said thanks to the love and support from faculty and peers, she knew she had done well in her courses, but she never imagined that she would be recognized as having the highest GPA in her graduating class. She had made it her mission to be a positive role model for her children always motivating them to “do the best that they can do,” but said she was surprised at how much her journey had impacted her son.

“It was such a good moment because when I found out that I won, my son who is 15-years-old,” she said, now teary eyed, “he came up to me and he said, ‘I'm so proud of you.’ It just showed me how I worked extra hard for my kids and I always work to show my kids that if you put in the time and effort, you can and will succeed –– if you want to.”

Now with her bachelor’s degree in hand, Ivy will be starting her master’s program at Stephen F. Austin State University this fall, but credits LU for helping to build her foundation in social work.

“I’m so thankful for the social work program and I can’t give LU enough credit. My classmates were amazing and these are friendships that I will have forever,” she said. “If you taky anything from what I say, this is just a thank you to Lamar University. Thank you to my social work professors for their support and for bringing out the best in me.”