Secretary Turned School Counselor Shares Her Story

"For high school graduates, the first summer after graduation is all about basking in their achievements, preparing for college and maybe even taking a trip somewhere. But Paula Fletcher’s post-graduation summer reflected nothing of those sorts.

“Four days after I graduated high school, my mom had a major stroke during her total knee replacement surgery. She was in the hospital for months, and that left me caring for my niece, whom my mom was responsible for at the time,” Fletcher said.

“That turned into my main focus, and before I knew it, I naturally put everything in front of continuing my education.”

Grand Canyon University’s Fall Commencement is somewhere Fletcher never thought she would be.

At age 17, she found her life going in a different direction from what she had expected. She began her college journey at Sinclair Community College, but after one quarter, she made the decision to drop out of school to tend to her sick mother and take care of her niece.

“There was one excuse after another from taking care of my mom, raising my nieces, marriage, divorce, the list goes on.”

But when a GCU representative showed up at her place of work, Horizon Science Academy Dayton Elementary, to talk to staff about returning to school, Fletcher could not help but wonder if it was her time to finally continue the education she had placed on hold for so long. Her mom had passed away. Her niece was grown, and her own daughters were on a good path in school. Finishing school felt like a possibility this time around.

“Purple was my mom’s favorite color. Before she passed, she told me she was sorry I had to take care of her instead of going to college.”

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