Anita Gotcher enrolled at Ashford University* through her company’s Education Partnership with Ashford. She had always wanted to go back to school, but “just the right time” never seemed to happen. Instead, life happened. After graduating with an undergraduate degree in 1997, she went to work, got married, had a child, survived cancer, and finally, started working at Dignity Health. Throughout everything, she held fast to the idea that she would pursue her master’s degree one day. Dignity Health provided that opportunity. “The experience was exciting and exhilarating,” says Anita.
“I wish I could stand on a rooftop and shout to one and all how amazing this experience has been,” says Anita, 2017 graduate from the Master of Arts in Organizational Management program. With the support of her family, coworkers, and advisors, Anita gained the confidence she needed to succeed in her program and at work. “Even though I never left the workforce, I still doubted my ability to perform like I did before I had our daughter,” says Anita. “Each class I took working toward my master’s built my confidence professionally. Each class reinforced that I could succeed, even though I had taken time off from my career goals. Being able to apply what I was learning to my job was icing on the cake.”
Fortunately, Anita had the support of her family throughout her entire journey. Her husband and daughter were the encouragement she needed, and the very ones she hoped to inspire. “My daughter and I sit at the kitchen table and do homework together,” says Anita. “I feel proud to be an example for her.”
And the support she had extended beyond the walls of her home, emanating from both Dignity Health and Ashford University. As her coworkers attended classes online in various programs, she had their support to strive harder in her classes. Meanwhile at Ashford, she had a full team cheering her on. “Words really cannot express how helpful my advisors have been to me,” Anita shares. “My corporate advisor showed me the ropes. She reassured me that even though I hadn’t been in school for years, I could do it. She provided me with helpful links and examples and virtually ‘held my hand’ on the first day of school. She also continued to check in on me and encourage my efforts. As school continued, my student advisor shared my commitment to not only complete my master’s, but to do so with flying colors.”
Anita encountered challenges, including a particularly tough course and keeping up with coursework while traveling abroad for work. “I told [my professor] that I was scared of the class and my reason why,” Anita recalls. “He heard me and showed me how to look at the subject in a different way. When I readjusted my thinking with his assistance, I was able to understand the class material and assignments.” In Krakow, Poland, Anita was trying to complete a class assignment but thankfully because of the online convenience, she was still able to access her classes while waiting to board a flight or staying in an international hotel. “I think these challenges make us stronger,” she notes. “When we overcome a challenge, it shows us that we can do more than we thought possible.”
Earning her master’s degree was an accomplishment not only for herself, but for her family as well. “I want my daughter to know that our only limits are the ones we place on ourselves. She can be and do anything she sets her mind to.”
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus