Life as a traditional college student has its share of challenges. Attending college while working full-time and raising children adds more layers of complexity.
Victoria Ryce knows this all too well. The sleepless nights, the sacrifices, the hectic balancing act — you name it. But for Ryce, the prize is worthwhile.
Ryce graduates from University of Detroit Mercy this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management and Technology (HIMT). She has worked in the University’s Public Safety department over the past three years, and is a single mother of two children.
“I managed to complete my degree by making a lot of sacrifices, such as sleep,” she said.
Ryce came to Detroit Mercy in the summer of 2017 with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree. The University’s HIMT program appealed to Ryce and aligned with her associate’s degree in Health Administration.
A job on Detroit Mercy’s McNichols Campus soon followed. Ryce joined the University’s Department of Public Safety as an auxiliary officer, a position available to students. She was promoted to community service officer a year later and landed in her current role as campus security officer.
Working in Public Safety allowed Ryce to have a convenient work and education dynamic at Detroit Mercy. Instead of a frustrating commute, she just made the short walk across the McNichols Campus to get from class to working the midnight shift.
But it also had its share of challenges, particularly during basketball season. Calihan Hall hosts numerous basketball games from October to March, and Public Safety officers are needed to ensure the safety of student-athletes, staff and spectators inside the arena.
The long nights of working overtime was difficult for Ryce, who needed to carve out time to study for classes and be there for her children.
“Needless to say my life was pretty busy and hectic at times,” Ryce said.
With her degree in tow, Ryce plans on exchanging her badge for a career in the healthcare field. She has experience as a certified nursing assistant and certified phlebotomist technician, but eyes something outside of direct patient care.
“I would really like to be involved in a quality position or a management position in a healthcare facility,” she said. “I also want to get my registered health information administrator certification to broaden my options.”
Detroit Mercy faculty played a big role in Ryce’s success at the University.
“They were very encouraging and always willing to help in any way possible so that I could gain the knowledge that I needed in order to be successful in my career,” Ryce said.
One of the faculty members there for Ryce was Patricia DeVoy, department chair in the College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing.
“Victoria’s dedication and hard work made her stand out as a scholar,” DeVoy said of Ryce.
Outside of the classroom, Ryce made a difference for the Detroit Mercy community and surrounding neighborhoods by volunteering with Campus Kitchen, a University program that provides students with opportunities to promote equity and sustainability in the food system.
Volunteering with Campus Kitchen proved to be her favorite moment at Detroit Mercy.
“It allowed me to interact and help people that were in need,” Ryce said.
Ryce says her education at Detroit Mercy extends far beyond her studies, and that’s something she says she will be forever grateful for.
“They do more than just teach you a skill but they also teach you how to be a decent human being and that will take you further in life than any degree ever could,” she said.
As a single mother of two children, Ryce’s journey to completing a bachelor’s degree at Detroit Mercy required a delicate balance for her and her children. She made sure to be there for them, despite a busy schedule, and her children were understanding.
“By the time I get off work, I had to drop my children off at school, attend parent teacher conferences and concerts,” Ryce said. “I couldn’t get out of my children’s school activities, so I had to limit vacations, outings, or just simple fun activities like going to the movies. Not only did I make sacrifices, but unfortunately, my children did as well.”
With new career and life outlooks, Ryce looks forward to the future with her children, knowing her time at Detroit Mercy was worthwhile.
“Completing my degree gives me a sense of accomplishment and that all the sacrifices were well worth it,” she said. “I feel like I will be able to provide a life for my children the way I’ve always planned to.”
– By Ricky Lindsay