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Overcoming a Fear of Succeeding
Graduating from a BS in Public Health program was once unfathomable to Kelly Murphy. She describes herself as “falling through the cracks” in her early education when her mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.
“There were a lot of external stressors and pressure,” says Murphy. “I thought I was just a bad student, but then I discovered what it meant to be mentally unhealthy and how that influences a multitude of things you try to focus on.”
As an adult, Murphy navigated an unconventional route into healthcare after witnessing her sister experience a traumatic birth. Murphy became a doula, childbirth educator, and lactation counselor and was employed with a hospital. There, she developed her confidence which opened her eyes to gaps in the healthcare system. “There were babies being readmitted and chemical-dependent mothers who hadn’t been given the proper resources,” Murphy says. “I’m seeing all this while in a Walden program that’s asking me ‘how do you plan to implement social change?’ and ‘how will you impact your community?’”
Today, Murphy serves on several community health committees and coalitions that address birthing, lactation, and maternal health. She intends to introduce a continual care model that includes prenatal education for chemical-dependent families. It is her intention to improve the existing care model by including postpartum mental health assessments from the onset, thereby streamlining the initiation of services to a few days postpartum.
Reconnecting with Education
Clarity and support were the two major factors that influenced her decision to attend Walden.
“Walden has such a defined focus on making sure students are succeeding, mentally doing well, and getting all the resources they could possibly need,” she says. “In many institutions, they don’t look at a person as a whole. I feel like Walden is conscious of this, which is refreshing.”
Murphy recently re-enrolled at Walden to earn an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Trauma and Crisis Counseling.
“My journey has led me to focus on mental health and bridging the gap between lactation care and mental support,” Murphy says. “Lactation consultants often become a mental health counselor in a sense. We’re just not formally educated to do it.”
Murphy is already outlining her next steps to continuing an education rooted in social change.
“The pinnacle of success for me would be to achieve my doctoral degree and be able to prove through research and observation that what happens in birth directly affects feeding afterward,” says Murphy. “This would hopefully inspire us to change what birth looks like, because high-risk pregnancies are becoming more and more prevalent. That could really make a change.”
Kelly Murphy (right) receives Walden’s Academic Performance Award from Board of Directors Chair Toni Freeman
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