Nothing Keeps Florida Online Student from Maintaining 4.0 GPA
By Bob Romantic
GCU Today Magazine
It’s the best deal Amy Blowers has ever made.
Her newlywed husband, Timothy, a member of the Army National Guard, was about to re-enlist for a tour that would take him to Afghanistan.
Timothy loved the Army and already had completed several tours, including one to Iraq, before he met Amy. And he was closing in on 20 years in the military, which would have made him eligible for retirement benefits.
But Amy, who grew up in a military family, knew what a tour in Afghanistan meant.
“I thought my world was crashing down again and I would lose the man I had waited my whole life to find,” said Amy, who had been through one divorce in her life.
So the two made a deal.
At the time, Amy was taking online classes at Grand Canyon University from her home in Daytona Beach, Fla., to complete her master’s degree in education. The decision to go back to school was part of a process of rediscovering herself after the split from her first husband.
Timothy’s offer was simple: If Amy agreed to finish up her master’s and then get her doctorate degree as well, he would leave the military.
“I would have agreed to anything at that point just to have him home safe with me, and I did,” Amy said. “Now, I have to live up to my promise.
“He sacrificed a lot. He loved being in the Army. In exchange, he pushed me to be even better than I was and pursue a dream I never even began to dream.”
Amy finished her master’s degree in August of 2011 with a 4.0 grade point average – just two months after having her first child, T.J., with Timothy. (Amy also had three children from her first marriage: Matthew, 15, Megan, 12, and Michael, 8.)
She began her doctorate at GCU in March 2012, when a slew of new obstacles suddenly came her way.
- Megan was diagnosed with pars planitis with cystoid macular edema, an eye condition that can lead to loss of vision. She is currently in remission after many trips to see specialists.
- Michael broke his arm that summer (“Having an 8-year-old with a broken arm and a pool in the back yard is not a fun mix,” Amy said).
- Amy and Timothy then decided to fight for custody of Timothy’s son from a previous marriage, Jeremy, a process that initially took a year to resolve and involved many trips to New York, only to end up back in court again when Timothy’s ex-wife appealed. (“That case just ended in October, and by the grace of God, we won again.”)
- And, finally, during the past year, Amy was dealing with her own medical condition. She had been having pain and bleeding related to severe endometriosis, a violent cervix and an enlarged uterus. That required a hysterectomy and the revelation that, medically, there was no way she should have been able to conceive T.J., let alone carry him to a full term. (“We call him our miracle baby,” Amy said.)
- Through all of that, Amy never wavered on her education and the deal she made with her husband. And Timothy, who now works for the Daytona Beach Police Department, has been her biggest supporter.
“There were many times I said, ‘This is ridiculous. Why am I trying to do this right now? It’s too much trying to deal with everything,’” Amy said. “But my husband always said, ‘I’ll take care of this, or I’ll take this child to see a specialist.’ There were so many times that we were travelling in the car to New York for a hearing and I’d have my laptop air card getting my schoolwork done.
“Timothy always puts things in perspective, figuring out what the barrier is — whether it’s time or patience or motivation. And he’s always there for me.”
Amy works for Volusia County Schools in the online learning department, teaching English for grades 6-12 and college readiness classes for advanced seniors. She is on pace to complete her doctorate in March 2015 — three months before Matthew will graduate from high school (“I have to beat him!” she said).
She also sings on her church’s praise team, taxis her children to various activities, cares for her now-19-month-old T.J., volunteers with Timothy’s police department, runs three days a week and makes cakes as a side business.
“More importantly, I can proudly say through all of this, I have maintained my 4.0 GPA,” Amy said. “I don’t know if I’m an inspiration, but I do know if I can do it, anyone can!”
Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.