NWU Degree Becomes Tradition for Polivka Family

When Dalton Polivka walked across the stage at commencement in May, he not only earned his degree in acting but he continued a family tradition of earning a Nebraska Wesleyan University diploma.

The tradition began with Dalton’s father, Marion. 

“When I was in high school, I didn’t see the benefits of getting an education after high school, but after working in corporate America, I started to see the necessity of it,” said Marion.

After advancing as far as he could in his job without a college degree, his wife, Shawndel, encouraged him to pursue a degree at Nebraska Wesleyan. 

“She was always adamant that I needed to get an education, so I credit it to her,” he said.  

He enrolled in NWU’s adult program as a business administration major. Soon after, his wife enrolled too and majored in business administration. 

“It was kind of like a date night,” Marion recalled. 

The degree opened up new opportunities for the couple. 

“Immediately after I got my degree completed, I moved into management and I can’t say that I’ve seen anybody in that business who has moved through the tiers of management like I have, and I credit it to the fact that I got a good education at Wesleyan.”  

Today, Marion is the Director of Operations and Continuous Improvement Lead for GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company located in Memphis, Tenn. Shawndel is a realtor for Home Real Estate. 

“I credit the school for turning the switch in my mind and getting rid of my self-imposed limits and allowing me to provide for my family,” said Marion.

A few years later, Dallas enrolled at NWU where he majored in political science. He was involved in Zeta Psi Fraternity, participated in the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) and studied abroad in Estonia. Following his graduation in 2014, Dallas started his own business, Watts Coworking, a workspace for entrepreneurs and startups. 

Next came daughter Shaina. She started her college education at NWU, which influenced her decision to study abroad in Argentina.

“She attributes her drive to experience the world and grow in her understanding of another culture to NWU and to her older brother, Dallas,” said Marion.

Dalton — the most recent NWU graduate — initially planned to pursue a degree in business administration but found his passion on the stage after participating in a summer theatre program at NWU. He’ll continue acting while pursuing work in videography.

“That was an eye opener for me, being surrounded by so many people who are talented,” said Dalton of his acting major. “I was overcome with this sense of belonging in that discipline and had something to contribute.”

In a few years, the Polivkas will gather again on Taylor Commons to celebrate their daughter, Selena, and her degrees in biology and psychology.  

“Life is funny,” Marion said. “It was by chance that Nebraska Wesleyan ended up being the core of my family’s development and success.  It wasn’t intentional but once we went there the value was so obvious and addictive.”



Story by Kelsea Porter, public relations intern.