Argosy University, Online Programs Psychology Graduate Rebecca Bailey Beats the Odds to Survive—and Thrive
It was the summer in 2012, and Rebecca Bailey knew something was terribly wrong.
Bailey, who worked in a group home providing care for the mentally challenged, had been experiencing excruciating headaches, tremors, memory loss, and incontinence. “I was gradually losing control of my body and I didn’t know why,” she recalls. “There were days when I could barely hold my head up. I looked like a bobblehead doll.”
One night, after dropping a full pan of spaghetti on the kitchen floor, Bailey was rushed to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed a birth defect in her brain stem and performed emergency surgery, removing fluid on her brain and correcting a life-threatening blockage
“Most people make it through life without ever seeing pictures of their brains,” says Bailey, now 46. “But within a period of a few months, I saw dozens of photos of mine—everything from x-rays to brains scans and MRI images.”
As she recovered from the surgery, Bailey had plenty of time to reflect on her life—and on all of the things she wished were different. She felt like she was being given a second chance, and she was determined to make it count.
“It occurred to me that I had a pretty resilient brain,” says Bailey, who lives in Elwood City, Pennsylvania. “After racking up $110,000 in medical bills, I remember thinking it was time to see how far my expensive brain could take me.”
Motivated by a desire to better understand some of the things that have happened in her life—and her reactions to them—she decided to return to college after 20 years to pursue her degree in Psychology at Argosy University.
“I wanted to earn a degree that would allow me to improve my own life—and to help others improve theirs,” she explains. “I’ve experienced a lot of pain and seen a lot of destruction in my life. I have family members who have struggled with everything from alcoholism to heroin addiction. I spent years hiding my son from his father, who had serious substance abuse issues. Two of my son’s childhood friends and a family member have died from opioid addiction Deciding to go back to college gave me a sense of hope at a time when hope was in short supply.”
Bailey was accepted into the Psychology program at Argosy University, Online Programs and started classes in December of 2014.
“At first, I was intimidated,” she remembers. “My computer skills were pretty much nonexistent, and it had been a long time since I first attended college. I was also working full time during my first year at Argosy. But I had a strong desire to improve my life. I enrolled in the online program because I wanted plenty of flexibility. It took a while to develop good study habits and learn how to keep distractions to a minimum.”
Bailey was on track and thriving when, in May of 2016, she received another jarring health diagnosis: breast cancer. A lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy followed, as did an infection in her lymph nodes. Bailey says the moral support she received throughout the ordeal from her Argosy success advisor, Jennifer Rauch, and her financial aid counselor, Morgan Gilbert, lifted her spirits and reminded her to stay focused on the future.
“When I began the online program, I was concerned that I’d feel isolated and alone,” says Bailey. “But Jennifer was always there for me, especially when I was dealing with my cancer diagnosis. She had been my success advisor for two and a half years at that point, but we didn’t actually meet face to face until we had lunch in Pittsburgh the day of my first chemo treatment. She listened as I cried, and she encouraged me to take advantage of Argosy’s counseling services. I also got to meet Morgan, who helped provide a real sense of comfort throughout the chaos. The treatment took a lot out of me, and Morgan reminded me how strong I really was.”
Bailey says her faith and the support of her three children (Collin, Will
and Jordyn) kept her motivated to stay focused on her education. In
December, 2017, Bailey earned her BA in Psychology (with a concentration in
Substance Abuse)—with a 3.7 GPA. She just landed a job in insurance sales
and will continue volunteering through her church, providing support
services to the homeless. With the help of her degree, Bailey also has a paid internship lined up at Beckley Comprehensive Treatment Center in Beaver, West Virginia. She will be coached on how to help individuals overcome substance dependency, as well as how to conduct group and individual counseling there.
Bailey recently spoke in front of the Argosy University, Online Programs
staff in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She shared her story told here, and
delivered a heartfelt 'thank you' to her personal Argosy University, Online
Programs advisor's who were in the room. She brought everyone in the room
to tears, as well as displayed a real-life example of an online student
with her story, hurdles, tragedy, and current successes. She showed a real
purpose and live motivation for what Argosy advisors do daily.
“I feel like the past six years have really tested me—and I passed,” says
Bailey. “If I can make it through everything that’s happened in my life so
far, I feel like I’m ready for anything.” ###
Pictured: Rebecca with her advisors and Rebecca speaking at Argosy University, Online Programs on 2/1/18.
See http://ge.argosy.edu/programoffering/5419 for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.