Cancer couldn’t keep her from commencement

December 16, 2016 / by / 0 Comment
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Roxanne Maier, 60, said she was the oldest nursing student in her class. She was temporarily sidelined, but is resuming studies in January.

Roxanne Maier, 60, said she was the oldest nursing student in her class. She was temporarily sidelined but is resuming studies in January.

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

Roxanne Maier felt the competing tugs of pride and longing as she gazed upon the sea of students graduating from Grand Canyon University on Friday.

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” said Maier, speaking from her spectator seat at GCU Arena. “These are my kids. And this is my class.”

Maier, 60, said she was the oldest in the class of students who started studying at the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions in August 2015. If she hadn’t gotten cancer, she also would have graduated Friday with her “kids.”

Three weeks into fall semester, she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, a form of breast cancer. She postponed her degree to fight the disease.  Her final treatment was Wednesday, and she is cancer-free.

Maier is eager to continue her education at GCU in January and likely will graduate in April. She is relieved her setback is only temporary.

She will be the first in her family to earn a college diploma, she said. Maier married and got a job in the post office while she was still attending high school in Milford, Ohio.

She graduated high school in 1974 before most of her fellow nursing students were born and worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 32 years.

Single and retired, she felt a calling to attend GCU to become a nurse to help others.

“I want to work in pediatrics or any area where I can make a difference,” Maier said.

Thinking of performing God’s will brought tears to her eyes. She also wept as she spoke about the students who helped her out with technology, and in general, had her back.

“I spent two years with them,” Maier said. “I wish I was sitting out there with them.”

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or laurie.merrill@gcu.edu.


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