An alumna explains how her family and friends made it possible for her to complete her degree.

Donna Walden (center).

Donna Walden (center).

DEGREE EARNED: BS in Psychology

CURRENT PROGRAM: MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership

WHAT I WAS DOING AT THE SAME TIME : I head a finance department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which includes an hour-long commute each way. I’m also a single mom with four kids. I helped three stay focused on their studies at college by setting a good example myself. The fourth is in middle school. During my studies, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had surgery and radiation therapy. Right before graduation, the cancer returned and I had surgery again. Thankfully, I’m in remission now.

BEST THINGS MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS DID TO HELP ME: My youngest son chipped in with housework and took care of our dogs, which was a great help. Overall, my kids were amazing—very encouraging. My best friend, Ginny, also helped out at the house and took care of my youngest while I had surgery. I had great people cheering me on, which is why I was able to complete my degree despite these challenges.

HOW I MADE TIME TO STUDY: Before I started my first course, I called a family meeting to talk about the changes we would need to make once I started school and to write a fair chore chart. We worked out a system, particularly for my youngest and me. We’d have dinner together, do homework, and then watch a movie. I did a lot of my research during my lunch hours to be sure I could make more time for him at home. I’d write papers after he went to bed or before he got up on the weekends. I stumbled at first. I’d wait until a deadline to start on a big project, then had to scramble. I figured out how to take things day by day, breaking each assignment into bite-sized chunks.

WHY I STAYED MOTIVATED: I’ve told my kids since they were young that they would graduate from college. I believe higher education is critical for success. It broadens your horizons, challenges your worldviews, and helps you find your passions. I finished my degree so my kids would see me as a leader, not someone who is all talk and no action.

MY HIGHEST POINT: I graduated one month before my two eldest children graduated from college. We celebrated our accomplishments at a combined graduation party with family from Chicago, New York, and New Jersey, which made it special. It was one of my proudest moments.

MY NEXT CHALLENGE: I’ve volunteered my entire adult life with organizations like Meals on Wheels, UNICEF, and the Special Olympics. My volunteerism is one way I show I am committed to creating a better world. Walden reinforced that passion for community service by emphasizing the importance of social change. My next goal is to find a career at a nonprofit to help change peoples’ lives every day.

Tell us how you did it at myWaldenAlumni.com/shareyourstory.
Man sitting at latop
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Talk to your personal enrollment specialist for more information today. Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.
Talk to your personal enrollment specialist for more information today. Please use our Domestic Form if you live in the U.S.
*Required Field
Academic Interests
Required
Required
Are you or your spouse an active or retired U.S. military service member?
Contact Information
Required
Required
Invalid email address
Please provide a valid phone number
Required
Please provide a valid zipcode
Required
Additional Information
Required
Get Started

By submitting this form, I agree to receive emails, text messages, telephone calls, and prerecorded messages from or on behalf of Walden University and its affiliates as listed in the Privacy Policy regarding furthering my education. I understand that such calls, emails, and messages may be sent using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our Privacy Policy or Contact Us for more details.

Required

By checking this box, I agree to receive emails, text messages, telephone calls, and prerecorded messages from or on behalf of Walden University and its affiliates as listed in the Privacy Policy regarding furthering my education. I understand that such calls, emails, and messages may be sent using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our Privacy Policy or Contact Us for more details.