Like many Ashford University* students, Stephanie Wilfong was inspired by her family to head back to school and start working on a pair of life-changing college degrees. Now, as she nears the end of her degree programs, she looks back on her Ashford journey.
To better provide for her husband and children, Stephanie decided a degree in health care would help with career advancement. Heath care is a rapidly growing field – an estimated 18 percent surge in hiring is expected through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – but Stephanie needed more education to be competitive in the sector.
To obtain that education, Stephanie was drawn to Ashford because it is accredited and offers online classes that fit into her busy schedule. In 2014, she enrolled in Ashford’s Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Administration program.
The experience at Ashford was so rewarding that Stephanie decided to add a second major. She enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program as well.
While she was eager to dive deep into her studies, Stephanie was suddenly faced with personal tragedies, the kind that could have potentially derailed her hopes of graduating in four years.
Her grandfather and her husband’s grandfather both passed away shortly after Stephanie began school.
“Within that same year, my husband was medically discharged from the military after 15 years of service, and our lives were changed dramatically,” she says. “Throughout the first year of my education, my husband pushed me to continue every week no matter what life had thrown at us.”
With her family’s support, the next two years of school “seemed to sail by” as Stephanie kept her mind focused on her goal of graduating. Her high marks earned her acceptance into Ashford’s Alpha Sigma Lambda and Golden Key International honor societies, and she successfully adapted to the online format, taking advantage of resources at the Ashford Writing Center and Ashford Library.
However, tragedy struck again in November 2016, when Stephanie lost her brother.
“My world just stopped,” she says.
The loss would require her to travel to Canada to say her final goodbyes, and Stephanie was again at risk of falling behind in school. Yet, she reached out to her Ashford advisors and instructors and was able to receive extensions on assignments while she traveled.
“They also checked on me after I had returned home to see if I needed further support or counseling,” she explains. “I want to thank Ashford for all they have done for me.”
With her challenges behind her, Stephanie is on pace to complete both of her degrees soon. She is planning on attending Ashford’s commencement ceremony in May 2018. When asked to reflect on her accomplishments, Stephanie thinks of the impact her accomplishments will have on her family.
“Not only have my children seen my success, but they also now see me working in health care as a leader,” she says.
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus