Bluefield University in the News

EARNING A BC DEGREE AGAINST ALL ODDS

by | Mar 23, 2012

Bluefield College inSPIRE degree completion students often testify to the extreme challenge of balancing school with work and family. The sacrifices, they say, are significant, and the odds are sometimes overwhelming, but they persevere, they keep the faith, and they overcome. The result: the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of earning a college degree and the opportunity to advance in a professional career. That's just the inSPIRE way.

But then, there’s Rhonda McCroskey, a Bluefield College degree completion student in management from Narrows, Virginia. In the midst of her studies, she has encountered more than your typical challenges. While balancing school, work and family, she’s been asked to juggle more daunting tasks, but she’s persevered, she’s kept the faith, and she’s overcome. The result: life!

In the midst of studying business ethics, analyzing research methods, and examining contemporary issues in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in management and leadership, McCroskey was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the body’s lymph nodes and other organs of the immune system.

McCroskey began BC’s inSPIRE degree completion program in 2009 — February 2, in fact, her 40th birthday. She did so knowing she’d need to balance her studies with full time work as the assistant to the director of the School of Communication at Radford (VA) University, not to mention her responsibilities as a wife to husband, Jimmy, and a mother to then 13-year-old daughter, Camry.

And, she did well, earning a promotion at work, coaching her daughter’s volleyball team, and successfully completing her assignments and classes at BC. In fact, McCroskey was set to graduate from the college with her bachelor’s degree in management and leadership in the spring of 2010 — that is, until she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“My faith is what sustained me,” said McCroskey about having to set her degree aside to battle cancer instead. “It allowed me to look at things through spiritual eyes and know that no matter what, I will be okay. If God chooses to heal me through whatever means — divinely or through medicine — and I stay here with my family, I will be thankful and take full advantage of our time together. But, if He chooses to take me home, then as a Christian, I cannot be sad, because that’s what every Christian lives for, to one day make it to Heaven.”

Just months shy of graduation in January 2010, McCroskey put her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree on hold for chemotherapy that would last nearly a year, followed by 27 radiation treatments over an additional six weeks. That alone is heart wrenching, but consider the fact that this time is McCroskey’s fourth time being diagnosed with cancer. She was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1997, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) for the first time in 2004, and NHL for the second time in 2007. Despite months of chemotherapy, total body irradiation, and a stem cell transplant, the cancer returned for a fourth time in 2010.

“There is only one word to describe how I have endured, how I have continually endured each time — God,” said McCroskey. “God’s grace and mercy have allowed me to stay focused on the task at hand no matter what it has been. He has given me the strength and the inner peace that passes all understanding to persevere and keep striving toward the goal of completing this program. His blessings continually flow in my life because of my willingness to submit to His will. So, I go through each day not focusing on the fact that I have cancer, but on God and His purpose for my life.”

McCroskey said the flexibility of the inSPIRE program has helped her manage and continue her studies. The addition of online courses, she added, worked well within her work, family and treatment schedules, which included labs twice a week, occasional transfusions, and trips of more than 60 miles from the hospital to work.

“Not only do I have a full-time job, but I also have a part-time job and a part-time business,” McCroskey said. “I am also very involved in my church and coached my daughter’s recreation league volleyball team. Knowing that I could complete assignments at my own pace made the challenge of getting everything accomplished as a student and a working adult much easier.”

Beyond the flexibility, McCroskey said she’s been grateful for the professors in the inSPIRE program, who have been more than instructors to her in recent months. Her relationships with them, she said, have extended far beyond the classroom.

“The instructors have encouraged me to continue and to finish my degree,” she said. “Many have been willing to pray for me and to add me to prayer lists. As a Christian, but especially as a student whom they had not known very long, that was very humbling and greatly appreciated.”

With just 18 academic hours or six classes left to complete her bachelor’s degree, McCroskey said she can again see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, whether she reaches that goal or not, she’s confident she will have achieved all that God intended and that even greater goals and dreams have been fulfilled than she ever imagined.

“Because of my health situation, completing my bachelor’s degree has become less about me and more about my testimony and witness to my daughter,” said McCroskey. “She has seen first-hand that no matter what obstacles life throws at us, if we are willing to trust in God and not give up, we can still achieve what it is that He has placed in our hearts to achieve. As a mother, this is one life lesson that I have endured for her that is priceless and one I know she will rely on in her future whether I’m there to help her through it or not.”

Bluefield University

[email protected]276.326.4212

Do I only apply once?

  • No. Students must apply each academic year for the fall semester and submit the necessary documents.

Do I have to take the classes specified in the Associate's Degree tracks as they are listed on the information sheet?

  • No. Students may take any of the courses that are offered in a given term.

Where do I find the textbook listing, and where do I purchase the books?

  • Log in to myBU, and under the "Student" tab, you will find a list of the textbooks required (if any) for each course. Students are responsible for purchasing their own textbooks.

How long is a semester?

  • Our semesters are divided into two 8-week terms.

Is there an orientation?

  • Yes. Students can attend an orientation session that explains how to access courses, how to register for classes, and answers other questions.

Where can I find a course description?

Does the student need to take the SAT or ACT in order to take Dual Enrollment classes?

  • No. If a student decides to study at BU full time, BU is currently test-optional for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

Are the classes live? Do students need to log in and participate at certain times?

  • Classes are offered online, so a student can log-on and study at their convenience and their own pace. Students have assignments due each week; you can complete your assignments at any point in time before the deadline.

Does an Early College student need to come to campus for anything?

  • No. However, we would love to have you visit our campus if you are interested in continuing with traditional on-campus study. Students who complete their associate's degree have the option to walk at our commencement ceremony.

Are Early College students able to receive Financial Aid?

  • No. However, Early College courses are very affordable compared to other options. The cost for an online Dual Enrollment course is $100 per credit hour.

How do transferring credits work?

  • Each College or University completes a transcript review in order to decide which courses transfer. Sticking to general education classes generally makes transferring credits simple. All Early College courses at Bluefield University are general education classes that should transfer to another accredited institution.

Is an Early College student considered, and treated, as a transfer student when they become a full-time college student if they have earned enough credits to be a Junior?

  • No. Since they have not graduated from high school, they are considered a first-time college student regardless of how many credits transfer. However, by transferring credits when they enroll as a full-time student, they will have to take fewer classes to receive their bachelor's degree, which shortens the length of time to earn the degree.

Can I speak to someone if I have more questions?

  • Yes. Please contact the Office of Admissions by email or you can call them at 276.326.4231

 

Meet our core Counseling faculty

Dr. Challen Mabry

Assistant Professor of Counseling

Dr. Kristen Moran

Associate Professor of Counseling

Brandy Smith

Assistant Professor of Education & Counseling,
Director of the Master of Arts in Counseling Program,
Title IX Confidential Counselor