Grad’s message for single parents: ‘They can do it’

April 27, 2019 / by / 1 Comment
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Jocelyn Word earned her bachelor’s degree even though she’s a single mother with four children and had to overcome a brain aneurysm and the loss of two jobs.

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

Jocelyn Word felt selfish going back to college last year. After all, the newly single mother from Stockton, Calif., had four children to support and raise, and they already had watched her go through so much in the previous five years.

A divorce.

A brain aneurysm.

The loss of two jobs because the companies folded.

Jocelyn Word and her four children (from left): Jeremiah, 9; Briyanna, 12; Jayden, 6; and Benjamin, 11.

But Word pressed on, even doubling up on her class load the last six months, and Friday evening she walked across the stage to accept her Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Management from Grand Canyon University.

“I feel absolutely amazing,” she said. “Now I’m able to have conversations with my daughter (12-year-old Briyanna) about school – she’s asking about how you get a doctorate. And I can tell other single parents that they can do it.”

Word’s interest in getting her degree was piqued by talking to her sister, Brittany Ware, an October 2018 GCU graduate and the person she considers her best friend. But it wasn’t that long ago that Word’s main focus was simply on getting healthy.

Word had a migraine coming on while she was singing in a Christmas program in 2016, and it got so severe she passed out. A doctor’s examination revealed the aneurysm.

“The doctor came in, and I don’t remember anything after that,” she said. “As a single parent, your biggest fear is leaving your children.”

But Word’s prayers were answered a year later when a routine exam showed no signs of the aneurysm. She was healed.

“That was most definitely through prayer,” she said. “I have no other way to explain what happened.”

So she did the only logical thing.

“I decided I was ready to live life.”

That meant going back to college despite the challenges of being there for children ages 12, 11, 9 and 6. It required what she calls “an amazing support group” that sometimes would take the kids for a week, lots of late nights, the kids watching movies while she worked and meticulous time management via the planner she carries in her purse.

“If it’s something in the planner,” she said, “I’ve got to do it.”

So now she has her degree. What’s next? Well, more education, most likely. She wants to get her master’s and go into consulting and leadership training.

“I’ve learned so much,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade it.”

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or rick.vacek@gcu.edu.

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One Response
  1. Shanikka Jackson

    Jocelyn, you are such an inspiration, I am in tears reading your story! Continue to move forward — your children are so lucky to have you!

    Apr.29.2019 at 9:55 am
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