shanna lucas at the beach

I have learned so many things about myself and those around me…

Shanna M. Lucas


After a few years of hard work to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Ashford University, graduation was finally in sight for Shanna Lucas. However, in 2016, just as she was starting her final class, disaster struck. A nearly achieved goal suddenly became an uncertainty and Shanna’s path forward was unclear.

Shanna was out walking her dog when another dog attacked Shanna, and she fell and hit her head on the sidewalk. She blacked out momentarily and when she opened her eyes, three concerned strangers were looming over her, asking if they could help. She felt fine and was only three blocks from home, so she declined assistance and proceeded home.

On the walk back to her house, Shanna texted her husband, who was deployed overseas at the time, and tried to tell him what happened. Her messages, however, were an incoherent jumble of letters. Shanna’s husband became immediately concerned and he convinced her to go to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Shanna spent a few days in the hospital, and once she was released, she had to work with a psychiatrist and a team of neurologists to help her recover her memory and cognitive functions.

“This became not only a personal challenge, but an academic challenge as well,” Shanna says. “I struggled with reading and writing, I struggled with my speech and the inability to form words, and I still struggle with my writing abilities. What once came easily now requires extra time and work on my behalf to ensure that I have not repeated myself or wandered off topic.”

Knowing that she needed to focus all of her attention on recovery, Shanna reluctantly decided to take a break from school. She worked with the staff at Ashford and arranged to take an academic leave. Her goal, however, was always to come back to Ashford and finish what she started. Upon her return, she realized her learning process had to change, so she adapted to her new circumstances.

“As for my classes and the constant intake of information that is required in order to finish my bachelor’s degree, I spent many hours of many days and many nights at my desk reading, taking notes, verbalizing the information, and learning how to use my sleeping hours to commit the information to long-term memory,” Shanna says.

Her perseverance came to fruition when she completed her bachelor’s degree in 2017.

“Throughout my time at Ashford as an undergraduate, I found the staff members and the faculty to be incredibly helpful and, in my time of need, extremely supportive,” Shanna says. “I truly felt that I had a team of people that were there to help me through all the obstacles in my path.”

But Shanna’s story doesn’t end there. Inspired by her own experiences with psychiatric health and her husband’s subsequent diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Shanna wanted to learn even more about the functions of the human brain. She enrolled in Ashford’s Master of Arts in Psychology program.

“My life has changed in many ways since my first day at Ashford,” she recalls. “I have learned so many things about myself and those around me, those in my personal life, and those I attend classes with online.”

One of the things she learned about herself is that she is capable of overcoming major adversity to achieve her goals.

“I hope to inspire anyone that believes that they cannot accomplish their educational goals because of any life event that might set them back,” she says. “If I inspire one person to reach further, dream bigger, or to achieve something that they believe is an impossible task, then all the sacrifices I have made will have so much more meaning.”

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