College, however, didn’t work out so well for her. After some struggles, she dropped out. She married her high school sweetheart and followed him as he joined the Navy and moved cross-country. As newlyweds they had their share of difficulties. Military life was new to both of them and it was stressful on their marriage and their relationship. They had a baby boy, but her husband’s deployments meant Sandy spent a lot of time being a single parent.
As much as she strove to be a loving mother and dutiful wife, he changed, becoming abusive. It came to the point that Sandy’s father had to come and rescue her and her baby. Away from the abuse and safely settled in a small town in Kansas, Sandy went back to school. Now divorced and struggling as a single parent, she worked at a job and went to school, earning a nursing certificate. Seeking a better life for her and her son, she moved back to Colorado’s Front Range to be close to her family.
She got a job in the insurance industry and continued to live as a single mother in a small apartment. Life was good but not always easy. At church, she joined a Sunday school class for single parents. There she met a slightly older single dad who was living with his parents and raising a little girl. They dated a short time and decided to get married.
Sandy never gave up on her dream of earning her bachelor’s degree and registered for classes that fall. They set their wedding date in late December during her Christmas break from school. A few weeks into school, however, the stress of life got to Sandy and she dropped out again. They kept their wedding date since everything was already in motion. They were wed two weeks before the calendar struck 2000.
Her new husband had a very good but low-paying job. They bought a trailer home and began the task of blending their new family. His daughter had to bounce back and forth between families but he eventually adopted her son. They struggled mightily in the first couple of years, adding two more baby boys to the mix and moving into a new house. They started a business on the side, operating it out of their garage.
Still not giving up on her dream, Sandy enrolled in classes online at the same college her husband graduated from 20 years earlier. This time she stuck with it. She continued to take classes, parent 3.5 children and give support as her husband failed at the side job, which took them into bankruptcy and foreclosure. They moved from Colorado to Amarillo to start over. New jobs, new friends, new church and a fresh start were what they needed.
Sandy finally finished her degree and graduated from Adams State College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. They moved to the Houston area in December of 2008 and started life over once again. Sandy got a job in the medical field and her husband bounced around, trying to keep afloat in a rapidly changing career field. A few years later with a renewed desire and new goals, Sandy returned to school. With two kids grown and gone and two more in high school and junior high, she dove headlong back into the books. She worked full time during the day and took classes at night. She changed jobs along the way and began working and going to school in Houston’s medical center.
The commute and hours were long and brutal, but Sandy was undaunted with a renewed desire to change the world. Her studies even took her overseas to learn about Sweden’s healthcare system. She continually discusses intricate details of the American healthcare system with the doctors she works with and applies what she learns from them to her studies. She has become a voracious consumer of medical administrative knowledge.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am now very proud and exceedingly happy to announce that my wife, the beautiful and talented Sandy Southern, will graduate from Texas Women’s University on Mother’s Day with her master’s degree in healthcare administration!
Baby, you’ve come a long way, overcome many failures and seemingly impossible challenges, worked hard and fought against incredible odds to accomplish this. You never cease to amaze me! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us as we embark on this new chapter of life. You’ve earned this and proven that you have what it takes to change the world. Now let’s get out there and let the world see what you can do!