Fueled by Faith to Live with Purpose
Growing up in a disadvantaged home, LaDonna did not have a traditional academic experience. She lived a difficult family dynamic that led to a lack of consistency in her education. Pregnant at 16 years old, LaDonna walked through some very traumatic and painful times. And she watched those around her do the same. Believing many people, especially within her culture, were desensitized by their past and often unaware of the ripple effect of trauma, LaDonna set forth on a journey to free herself from the pain of the past.
She always had interest in people – analyzing their emotions, studying what motivates behavior, and a curiosity for the unique ways we each venture through life. Inspired by the hope she found in her own journey to healing, she longed for a platform to do more. As a deeply spiritual woman, LaDonna prayed for wisdom.
She received a sign! But, it wasn’t exactly the sign she expected.
It was an email from Marian University in her inbox.
LaDonna returned to the classroom in 2019 and immediately felt anxious about her decision. In the back of her mind, she saw herself as a hard-working Grandma that would not fit the mold of a traditional classroom. Recalling new student orientation, LaDonna laughed as she sat at the table with older adults – unaware that all of these older “students” were actually faculty! But it was at this table, LaDonna had a significant conversation with Dr. Leslie Jaber-Wilson. This conversation was a “game changer” and above all, LaDonna felt confident that she was on the right path and in the best place.
Remembering the anxiety and fear she felt, LaDonna, now in her final semester, expresses gratitude to the community of support she has experienced at Marian. She attributes her success to the knowledge, empowerment, and compassion she found in all of the faculty, especially within the Psychology department. When faced with personal issues, professors came alongside her offering the encouragement she needed to remain committed to her goals. LaDonna found a resource to assist her with every need and obstacle, and took advantage of tutoring and support services from the Learning & Writing Center.
A Degree is Just the Beginning
Knowing the finish line is in front of her, LaDonna plans to walk across the stage in December to accept her college diploma with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. With hope to one day open her own clinical counseling practice, LaDonna plans to return to the classroom, now in pursuit of a Master’s degree.
LaDonna is determined to create a safe space for people to draw strength and experience change. As commonly said, “you don’t know what it feels like unless you have walked a mile in my shoes,” she hopes to be an advocate for mental healthcare, a mirror to others who have walked a similar journey, and beacon of light to all who need to be reminded that “beauty from ashes” is possible. Fueled by her faith and inspired by God’s grace, LaDonna believes she was created with purpose. She is grateful for this journey she calls her “faith-walk,” and humbly gives glory to God for the hope she found in her own healing, the wisdom she gained while at Marian, and the joy she now has in being able to use both to positively impact the world.
Marian University’s Psychology program combines hand-on field experience, internships and research, and is taught by Professors that share real-life expertise. In addition to the traditional undergraduate offerings, students also have a 100% online program option. To learn more about Marian’s Bachelor of Science in Psychology, visit our website.