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To England and Back: 1949 National School of Business Graduate Has Led Interesting Life

Luella (Schnaible) Cyr has her cousin, Delores, to thank for her degree at National School of Business (NSB), a business college founded in 1941 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

In 1948, Delores had chosen NSB, and Delores’ parents were uneasy with her traveling all that way alone. The cousins lived in Java, South Dakota, about 4 hours away from Rapid City.

“My aunt and uncle asked if I could go too,” said Luella. “They were nervous about Delores striking out on her own.”

Luella in 1949

Fresh out of high school and at 17 years old, Luella and Delores headed to Rapid City. They lived with 4 other NSB students in the basement of a private home.

“Mrs. Morrison was kind to us. She gave us a comfortable place to stay and study,” recalled Luella.

At NSB, Luella was a good student who studied hard and got good grades, something the founders of NSB, Clarence and Katherine Jacobson, expected from all their students.

“The Jacobsons expected the best from all of their students,” said Luella. “We learned typing on a manual typewriter and bookkeeping on ledgers with really long columns. It wasn’t any fun finding out you had a mistake at the end of one of those columns.”

Luella also recalls that her brother, who attended the University of South Dakota (USD), marveled at how much she had learned at NSB.

“He said it took him 4 years at USD to accomplish what I did in just 2 years at NSB,” said Luella. “He was really impressed with the quality of education that NSB offered.”

Luella graduated in 1949 with a Secretarial Degree and immediately found work in the office of a local construction company, and then at an insurance company. The Jacobsons, she recalled, also urged all their students to take the Civil Service exam.

“NSB students always did really well on the Civil Service exam,” said Luella. “Especially if we took it soon after we took courses like shorthand, when it was still fresh in our minds.”

By 1953, Luella was getting restless. A friend had went to work for a Member of Congress in Washington, D.C. A call prompted by her Civil Service exam results came just in time. She was offered a job at the American Battle Monuments Commission on Constitution Avenue in our nation’s capital.  

Luella jumped at the chance.

This opportunity led to two more significant events in her life. She became the private secretary to General Thomas North. Soon thereafter, she met her husband, Leo Cyr, an enlisted man who served in the United States Army for 20 years. The couple later welcomed three children, Kerry, Brian and Dorinda.

In time, her husband’s career took the family to England where Luella took a job helping children with special needs. This was the start of her decades’ commitment helping children with special needs.

“Once we were back in the states, I volunteered at an elementary school,” she said. “It was work I really enjoyed. I also worked for 19 years in a direct mail business, holding various positions, first as a switchboard operator and receptionist, then in the purchasing department, and in the last four years in accounts payable.”

These days, Luella is back in Virginia, less than two hours from Washington, D.C. and is enjoying retirement.

“I’ve lived a good life and come a long way since my days in Java,” said Luella. “I have a loving family and enjoyed a good career, with many years helping children. I have no regrets and it all started with Delores choosing NSB. I’m glad she did.”

About the author
Tamie Hopp is the Director of Alumni & Foundation Services for National American University. She can be reached at thopp@national.edu. For more information on alumni relations, visit nauconnect.com. Information about the NAU Foundation can be found at naufoundation.org.

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