July 2, 2013
“One night, I pulled over off of I-70 at a Barnes & Noble in Kansas City, and I used their Wi-Fi in my car to take a forensic psychology test. Another time, camping with my daughter, I wrote my final essay from a tent in the rain in Knob Noster State Park, a laundry basket was my desk,” said Dana Vansell, a May 2013 Drury graduate from the College of Continuing Professional Studies.
Dana Vansell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in May at the age of 37. Besides being a non-traditional student, Vansell faced other challenges: she’s a single mom and her ten-year-old daughter, Grace, has a rare congenital birth defect called laryngeal cleft that causes her to aspirate anything she eats or drinks.
Living north of Sedalia in the countryside, and with a high needs child; Vansell needed flexibility in her education schedule. That’s why, when she decided to go back to college to earn her bachelor’s in December 2011, she enrolled in Drury’s online psychology program. Her daughter’s medical treatments and surgeries forced Vansell to travel to Kansas City and St. Louis often during her Drury college career. That’s why her car, and anywhere else she could find, became Vansell’s classroom.
The experience not only served to educate Vansell, but her daughter, as well, “When I learned astronomy, my daughter learned astronomy,” Vansell said. “She’d make note cards and quiz me.”
Grace had been so involved in her mother’s education that she asked to be released early from the hospital so she could pin her mother at her Alpha Sigma Lambda honors society ceremony for CCPS students.
Vansell isn’t done with education. She recently said goodbye to friends and family and moved to Republic with her daughter, which will be home base as she pursues Drury’s one-year accelerated Master of Arts in Communication. She begins taking classes in the fall. “Grace and I are both excited about this opportunity for a fresh start,” Vansell said.
Eventually, when she’s done with school, Vansell would like to combine her education and life experience to become a child life specialist and a marriage and family therapist, “I want to work with families who are going to have procedures, who have lost children and work with families who are experiencing grief,” Vansell said. “Moving to Springfield and starting a master’s program is closure and a new start for me. I’ve been through a rough marriage and I have a high needs child, I want to make sure I help others so that the things I’ve gone through haven’t been in vain.”
Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications.