Darlene Henry started her higher education journey at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) in the fall of 1984. Now, 39 years later, she is back to complete her degree online.
“It’s my time now. I’m so grateful for this opportunity because it has been an amazing journey,” Henry said.
Henry had to put her education on pause after two semesters because life had other plans, and she ended up leaving to work for the tax collector’s office. Henry wished she had a bigger push from her family at the time to continue her education.
The driving force for Henry to go back to school was the COVID-19 Pandemic, which forced her to examine her life and think of future goals. Sitting in her room at the height of the pandemic, she decided to set a personal goal for herself to finish her degree.
“When I start, I’m going to finish it,” said Henry.
To start her back-to-school journey, she took business classes at Palm Beach State College, offered through her job as a code enforcement officer for Riviera Beach. Henry used these classes as a test and ended up with 12 credits and the decision to call PBA about their online program.
Since Henry works full-time, has a family and volunteers at her church, she has found the online program to be the best fit for her busy lifestyle. Henry says PBA online offers plenty of engagement through discussion posts and easy access to advisors and professors.
“I feel like they’ve [members from the online program] held my hand through this process, and as an adult student, I needed that because of how long I had been separated from the classroom,” Henry said.
Henry has had to make sacrifices in her social life to accommodate her studies. She describes sitting at her computer from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, determined to complete her schoolwork. Her husband, an educator in Palm Beach County, has been essential in supporting as she focuses on school. Her daughter regularly cheers her on, which means a lot to Henry because she considers her one of the biggest reasons for returning to school.
“My prayer is that she sees me and says, ‘If mommy can do it at her age, then I can do it, too'” said Henry.
Henry advises people wanting to return to school, whether they have stopped for a semester or several decades, to find the right mindset.
“In the beginning, I thought it was going to be so hard, but it was so much easier than I thought, and that may be because I went to PBA,” said Henry.
Henry has found the PBA community very supportive of her since day one. She expressed her gratitude for her attentive advisor, her involved professors and the fact she is able to get a Christ-centered education. Her ability to include her faith in her studies has made her feel accepted and excited to incorporate her spiritual life into her classes.
Henry expressed that only through Christ has she been able to continue her journey. “He is able to do above and beyond what we can ask for,” she said.
To learn more about PBA’s online program, visit https://www.pba.edu/academics/online/.