Because of mental health issues, college seemed like it might be impossible for Charity Keith. Nevertheless, she decided to test the limits of possibility and give college a try. That decision ended up changing her in ways she didn’t expect.
“I have overcome a lot to get to where I am,” Charity explains. “I have ADHD and several mental health issues, including Bipolar 1 Disorder and severe anxiety.”
Those mental health issues derailed Charity’s first attempt at higher education many years ago. At that point, it looked like college just wasn’t in the cards for Charity. But she was motivated to try again at age 32.
“I decided I was tired of living on SSI [Supplemental Security Income],” she says. “I want to do something with my life.”
Charity discovered Ashford University* and was drawn to its online format. “As a person with social anxiety, sitting in a physical class with other students would prove too daunting,” she says.
In 2013, Charity enrolled in Ashford’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program before switching to the Bachelor of Arts in Child Development program. She worked with Ashford’s Office of Student Access and Wellness to develop suitable accommodations for her mental health needs, and she also discovered teachers who supported her throughout her studies.
“I had an awesome Access & Wellness Advisor,” she says. “I loved all of my teachers. They have all been patient with me and understood I have ADHD and mental health issues. They have been nothing but kind about implementing my accommodation.”
Charity even gained some new insight into her mental health in her Ashford classes.
“My favorite class was PSY 303 Abnormal Psychology because I got to see my mental illness from a different viewpoint,” she says. “My instructor in that class actually compared me to Einstein because he had disabilities but was very intelligent also.”
Thanks to Ashford’s support and her own perseverance, Charity achieved what once seemed impossible: she earned her bachelor’s degree, graduating Cum Laude in 2017. She was also inducted into the Gamma Upsilon chapter of Delta Alpha Pi International, an academic honor society specifically for students with disabilities. These achievements have become enduring sources of pride for Charity.
“I am much more self-confident than I was before I started at Ashford University,” she says. “I know if I can graduate college with honors then I can handle anything life throws my way.”
Charity’s newfound confidence has opened up many new possibilities for her. She is now looking to pursue a career in special education. To support that goal, she has returned to Ashford and enrolled in the Master of Arts in Special Education program. Charity has overcome a lot and walked a long way to get where she is today.
“The point here is that no matter what your circumstances, you can find your place at Ashford University,” she says.
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus