Joy and Rebecca Brown both overcame remarkable obstacles in order to achieve their goals of college degrees, through all the hard times, they supported one another and were both honored with their degrees last semester.
Every year, there are students who graduate from this university even in the midst of incredible hardship. This can certainly be said of two of our alumni, Joy Brown and her daughter Rebecca, who got their diplomas last year after facing a lot of challenges.
Joy Brown has worked on acquiring a bachelor’s degree for about twenty years. She was enrolled at University of Utah where she met her husband and took on a full time job to put him through school. They moved to California where she got back in to a college in Porterville and received her associate’s in 1993. During that time, she became a foster mother and also had children of her own. School was once again postponed so she could take the classes that are required by law in order to adopt a child. She resumed her studies at California State, Bakersfield, and made the hour commute to take classes for a bachelor’s degree. At this time, she also took her 4-year-old with her to be cared for in the nursery provided by the campus.
After a couple of semesters, she stopped attendance again to care for her five children and work full time. Their family decided to move to Utah and Joy started working at UVU in the Extended Studies Department. Because of the employment benefits she was able to go back to school and work on her bachelors, which is also where her daughter Rebecca was attending college. Both were on the fast track to graduation when Rebecca was in a terrible accident in 2007.
She was walking in Salt Lake City when she was hit by a car that was traveling 45 miles per hour.
The doctors said it was a miracle that she survived the ambulance ride to the hospital and she suffered all kinds of injuries, including terrible damage to her head.
She survived an intensive twelve-hour surgery and was in the trauma ICU for six weeks. The doctors told her that she would never walk again. She had to go to rehab and relearn how to sit up. She was in pain all of the time but rarely complained and exercised amazing patience and discipline with the rehabilitation process. At this point, Joy stopped going to school in order to care for her daughter and keep her company throughout her stay in the hospital.
It’s been five years since the accident. Regardless of the brain injuries that Rebecca has suffered that make reading and processing information very difficult she was determined to get her associate’s degree. Rebecca wouldn’t listen to doctors and insisted on learning how to walk again.
With the help of a walker, Rebecca got to all of her classes, took all of her tests and acquired her associate’s last semester. Joy, after 20 years of wanting to graduate with a bachelor’s also received her degree in Emergency Services Management.
“I am so proud of her and so grateful to her for everything,” Rebecca said.
“She is my inspiration, she is the most patient and perseverant person I know. She won’t be valedictorian but her accomplishments are outstanding,” Joy said of Rebecca.
The accomplishments of both women are extraordinary. Getting an education is full of challenges and requires hundreds of hours of hard work in classrooms. Sometimes while in college students also learn things about themselves and the challenges of life outside of the classroom. Utah Valley University is full of high achieving, positive individuals and Joy and Rebecca Brown are certainly two of them.
By Felicia Joy