Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

I had no intention of returning to the workforce full time when I completed my Bachelor of Science – Healthcare Administration at Baker College Online, in 2011. I had mostly been a stay-at-home mom for a decade, and just wanted to have the accomplishment for myself. A year later, I left a toxic relationship and started my life over with a brand new career in healthcare, where I was grateful for my degree and the opportunities it opened for me.

Since rejoining the workforce, I have grown tremendously and learned so much about life, our healthcare system, government and how many people are living without their basic needs met, even in the most affluent zip codes in the country. My whole life has brought me to this moment, a full circle moment when this little girl who grew up in a trailer with nothing gets to go and fight for all the little ones just like me, and the families who are trying their best to make it in this broken system. I have gone as far as I can go with my current level of education, and I have much work I’d like to do to influence the policy level of healthcare. 

It is a crying shame that the people with the greatest needs have the least access to healthcare services here. There are so many layers of problems from the provider shortage to billionaire profits being prioritized over the health and safety of our people – the system really couldn’t be more broken. I am ready to get to work to make sure some billionaires give up their yachts for the greater good in my lifetime. It’s time to shift our healthcare industry from strategies driven by profits and dollars to strategies built on altruism and philanthropy.

In the next five to ten years, I would like to take on healthcare access and really work on our leaders to expand Medicaid in Tennessee while I am here. I love my work in the nonprofit sector and would like to continue in this realm, maybe even starting my own non-profit organization someday. I would like to do some consulting work to help non-profit agencies with their compliance and regulatory requirements, connecting community resources with each other and to their intended clientele. I also plan to continue writing about healthcare issues and working with grassroots activism organizations to raise awareness, speakup for healthcare freedom and mobilize voters.

My greatest strengths on this journey will be my passion for making the world a better place and my deep love of learning. I know there will be many challenges along the way for me, the least of them not being my busy healthcare career and blended family of six! My husband is a wonderful, supportive partner who is completely on board with me furthering my education. I know he will rise to the occasion like he always does to take care of housework and domestic duties, so I can do what I need to do. I will pull all the tools from my selfcare arsenal to manage stress appropriately and keep myself grounded while working toward this exciting achievement. It takes a whole village sometimes, and thankfully, I know my village has always got me, so I never have to worry about starving or burning out entirely when things get crazy. I also have a wonderful circle of working mom friends who function like a support group in every way, thank goodness.

I am grateful for the familiarity and ease of being welcomed back into the Baker family for another round of learning. I started with Baker in the classroom at the Jackson campus back in the late 1990s when my daughter was a baby. Now she’s twenty-five and I’m returning online, again, to do graduate school. It’s a beautiful moment for me, and I’m so excited to have another Baker diploma to hang on my wall. 

Completing my Master’s degree will be a huge milestone, as I will be the first person in my entire family to do so. My baby sister and I were the first generation to earn a Bachelor’s degree, much to our grandmother’s disappointment. She didn’t understand why anyone would waste their time and money to become a college educated idiot. Despite our challenges and lack of familial support, we both earned our four year degrees to set an example for our children, and break our family’s cycle of poverty. 

I want my granddaughters to hear the story one day of how their grandma got her graduate degree when she was forty-six years old, so she could go out and change the world, even though their great-great-grandmother told her college was a waste of time. I want them to know that the same fire in my belly that has fueled me through every challenge in my life also dwells inside them, inside everyone. We are only limited by our own imaginations. When we realize how truly limitless we are, anything is possible.

Thank you for this opportunity to break cycles for my family and also change the world. I am hopeful that my graduate studies will prepare me to take our healthcare system into the future America deserves, while also creating a new legacy for our family. One of success and perseverance, where nothing shall be impossible.