Angela Chance is a full-time Reinhardt student, a senior majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-physical therapy – but she’s not a typical undergraduate. She beautifully exemplifies the life and work of a persistent, determined and bold adult learner. She is almost 40 and raising two children, ages 6 and 15. “I’m not a young student,” says Chance. “It’s very difficult coming back to school.” But she’s making it work!
Innumerable twists, turns and roadblocks riddled Chance’s path to Reinhardt. She joined the army, for 15 years, following high school. “My dad told me I had to either go to into the military or go to college. I didn’t have the money to go to college, so I enlisted.”
While stationed North Carolina, Chance, by chance, met her husband, Larry. “He was infantry, on the front line,” leaving her on pins and needles, not knowing the details of his life so far away.
During his last tour of duty, Larry was in a helicopter accident. Injuries from the accident led to the end of his tour, a cancer diagnosis, and an honorable discharge. After relocating their family to Georgia to live with Chance’s parents, devastating tragedy struck when Larry unexpectedly passed away. “We knew it was a possibility, but we thought we had we had more time. We weren’t prepared. After Larry’s death, I just checked out. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to leave the house. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. I was having nightmares. It was just a constant, constant battle with myself.”
After nearly a year, Chance began to move forward. “My mom was such a big help and so encouraging during that time. She reminded me that I have two kids who need me and that I have to take care of them.”
Now time to move on, Chance decided on a career of service – helping others. “I didn’t just want go to school, get a degree, and get on with my life, I wanted to do something to help people.” Chance’s parents ecstatically encouraged her return to school, perhaps a chance to be the first in their family. “My mom is the oldest of eight kids. She never had the opportunity to go to high school or college, but she pushed me and my siblings to do that. I love her for that. She’s a great woman. My dad graduated from high school and went straight into the military. He didn’t pursue a college education.”
Chance’s mom suggested a career in physical therapy – perhaps a perfect chance to “help others.” Enter Reinhardt.
With an associate’s degree, a nearly completed bachelor’s in Human Resources, and classes taken along the way, “I decided to completely switch directions.” And so she did.
With renewed strength and eager to begin, Chance entered – and became challenged by – Reinhardt University. “I got crushed my first year. I questioned whether I should be doing this. I kept seeing young people with smiling faces. They didn’t have kids and bills and car payments, but I did! I kept thinking ‘I’m too old for this.’”
Chance persisted, with each course a chance to further her goals. RHU 100 (Strategies for Success) reset her forward motion. “My academic success coach helped me become more effective at managing my time and I gained new perspective.”
Chance enjoys her time at Reinhardt. “My teachers completely understand my situation, from attending to children who are sick to juggling multiple priorities. I really enjoy going to this school because I know Reinhardt’s got my back!” She likes the small, close-knit Reinhardt community and the many student activities. “Reinhardt is also really diverse, which is important to me.”
Chance is very open about her struggles with overcoming personal tragedy to the challenges of being a full-time student while raising a family. She admits there are many mornings she doesn’t want to get out of bed. “I just don’t want to get up. Every morning, I hear my alarm, and I think ‘I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to get up. I’ve got to do this for them (her kids).’” Larry’s memory also keeps her moving forward. “I want to ensure that the time he spent with me wasn’t in vain. He had started school prior to his death but was unable to finish. He was too tired, too sick. He told me ‘You must do this!’” This is her chance.
“While often difficult and challenging, I arrive everyday with a smile on my face, ready to learn something new. I want my kids to see that despite tragedies in life, you can outweigh the bad with the good by doing your best and giving back to society.”
After she graduates from Reinhardt, Chance sets her sights on Baylor University for a doctorate. She looks forward to the day she can introduce herself as “Dr. Angela Chance,” a strong daughter, mother, wife, public servant, and proud Reinhardt graduate, who lives her life with grace, gratitude, and giving back – always ready to take that chance.