Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
"I want to be of service to people who have gone through pain in their life."
Debra Collins knows exactly why she chose Ashford University to complete her education. "First, to finish a goal I began so many years ago. Second, I want to obtain my Bachelor's 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."
Collins, 47, of Glendale, California, 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. "When I finished high school and graduated in 1981," she says, "I knew college was the next logical step, and so I attended two years at the local community college. But because I lived on my own I had to work more hours to pay my way in life, and so I put school on the backburner, always thinking I'd go back and finish 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, as she came from a less-than-ideal family, 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."
Then Collins made a bold move, and decided to complete the degree she had abandoned years before. "I had been comparing online universities, and ran across Ashford University," she says. "I sent an email inquiry, and a wonderful woman by the name of Abi Gray called me. 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? But Abi left a couple of voicemail messages and sent an email letting me know that when I was ready, to give her a call. She did it in such a personal way — it wasn't some sort of form letter. I decided that I owed her a call. Abi and I spoke, and I really believed that I needed to just jump in, feet first. So I did!"
Now she is enrolled with Ashford University. Collins is actively pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and glad she made the leap. "I seem to be flying now and there is no stopping me from reaching my goal and dream. When I first enrolled in Ashford, I thought I would go for my Associate's degree, but quickly decided after a couple classes that I needed to fulfill my dream and so I switched over to what I really desired which was to obtain my Bachelor's in Psychology. I am almost halfway there and the classes seem to be going by so quickly!"
Collins says she has already started to plan her goals for life after graduation. "First, I have already finished writing a book that I hope will help and inspire people. It's 100,000 words, and it's my story and my journey. The second thing I plan to do is to get into a career that helps adult survivors of abuse. And third, I also would like to do motivational and inspirational speaking."
Ashford University has made a difference for her. "I feel more confident and have better self-esteem these days," says Collins. "I love being a student again, even at the age of forty-seven. 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.
"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. My best friend, Georgia, has already promised that we will make the trip to Clinton, Iowa, when I graduate so that I can have my degree personally handed to me. What a great thing to look forward to!"
Debra has just passed the halfway mark on the path to earning her degree, and has maintained a 3.95 to 4.0 GPA! She says that not too much has changed in her life – she still has the same job and lives in the same area – but she feels different. “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.” She is also proud to report that she 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.