Being an Ashford Saint made me realize that I am still a valuable member of society, with so much to contribute.
Candy de la Garrigue
Despite not having a college degree, Candy de la Garrigue had a lucrative career in telecommunications until 2005. Then, as she puts it: “One day I sneezed, and my life changed forever.” At 45 years old, that sneeze caused her to throw her back out – but it didn’t come back. She was eventually diagnosed with spinal issues, including degenerative disc disease, and deemed permanently disabled.
Says Candy, who was also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, “I felt worthless. I had worked my entire adult life, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.” Her husband had an idea. “He said, ‘You’re the smartest person I know –don’t you think you should have the degree to prove it?’” laughs Candy. After earning her Associate’s degree at another school, she chose Ashford to get her Bachelor’s degree online.
It’s safe to say that this Oklahoma City, OK resident has never regretted that decision. “I haven’t looked back. Being an Ashford Saint made me realize that I am still a valuable member of society, with so much to contribute. I can contribute to society in different ways.”
This mother of a grown daughter and grandmother of three enjoyed making personal connections with her Ashford classmates, many of whom have overcome challenges themselves. She also enjoyed carrying on conversations with her professors even when discussion threads were over, saying that they were all "engaged in our classes and extremely fair.”
Candy especially enjoyed her membership in Ashford’s chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society. “Anyone who is fortunate enough to be invited to Golden Key should join; the opportunities afforded to Golden Key members are incomparable.” Candy also made the Dean’s List.
Along with Candy’s hard work and determination, various Ashford staff members have contributed toward her success. She says that her Student Advisor went “above and beyond” for her and that her counselor at the Office of Student Access and Wellness was very helpful in assisting her in her academic journey as a disabled student.
Along this journey, Candy has already inspired her daughter to return to college, and she hopes these lessons will rub off on her grandchildren as well. “I’d love for them to know that education is the key to having the life you want, as opposed to struggling.”
Candy graduated in 2013 with her Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice at age 53 and has dreams of working at Ashford as an online instructor and becoming an elder abuse investigator. “I can’t imagine choosing to get my Bachelor’s degree with another institution. I would like to tell anyone who is considering Ashford that this is a great school. Being a Saint is the best!”