"I want to be of service to people who have gone through pain in their life."
While enrolled at Ashford University, Debra Collins told us exactly why she chose the school to complete her education. "First, to finish a goal I began so many years ago. Second, I want to obtain my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology so I can fulfill my dream career of helping others. And third, I deserve to do this for me, and with my three kids watching, I want to be an inspiration to them."
This Glendale, CA resident is a single mother of three children, two of whom are now grown. She works as Special Assistant to the Chairman of a non-profit organization located in downtown Los Angeles. After finishing high school, like many fellow adult learners, she began taking courses at a community college before putting them on the backburner with the intention of finishing someday. "That someday never seemed to happen, because marriage, children, divorce, and single parenting became the new roles in my life. There just didn't seem to be time for school."
Nor did her past experiences help much. She lost her mother to cancer at a young age, struggled with substance abuse, and ultimately went through recovery. Fortunately, she got the help she needed and found the strength to put her life back together. "As I continued with my recovery, I had this desire to follow my true purpose – and it wasn't sitting behind a desk as a secretary. I want to be of service to people who have gone through pain in their life."
After comparing online universities, Debra sent an inquiry to Ashford. “At first I was terrified at what I had done. Was I crazy to think I could swing school, work, and take care of my youngest child?” Luckily, she overcame these fears and began to really enjoy her experience as a student, having told us, “I am learning so much and life seems to be making much more sense now that I can put my life experiences and college education together. I seem to be flying now and there is no stopping me from reaching my goal and dream.”
"I feel more confident and have better self-esteem these days," she told us. "I love being a student again. I had to finally push through my fear of the unknown and just do it! I had to take that leap of faith, and I had to believe that it was the right choice for me.”
After graduation, Debra planned to get her self-penned memoirs published, pursue a career helping adult survivors of abuse, and delve into motivational speaking. "I am glad and proud that I selected Ashford University as my school. I have bought the Ashford hoodie sweatshirt and I wear it proudly and often.”
Recently, Debra received the “Jewel of Glendale: Women of Courage” award from the Commission on the Status of Women. Congratulations, Debra! View a video of Debra sharing her story just before she received her award.