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Not only is music a passion of WGU graduate Elizabeth Carroll, but she has been teaching
music to elementary students for 26 years. A master's degree was always something
she wanted to pursue, but because of her family life, she knew it was going to be
a struggle. However, her studies at WGU turned out to be easier to deal with than
Elizabeth's granddaughter, Catie, was diagnosed with brain cancer on her first birthday.
She would have to undergo extensive chemo and radiation treatments. Concentrating
and studying became very difficult for Elizabeth after the long days and late nights
she spent with Catie after her numerous surgeries.
"I couldn't have done it without my mentor", Elizabeth says. "She was encouraging
and supportive every step of the way. In fact, she regularly checked on Catie to
see how she was doing and how surgery went."
Their relationship became even stronger when they met in person at graduation. Elizabeth
was looking for the lady with the long hair she always saw in pictures. When her
mentor approached her with short hair, she hugged Elizabeth while telling her that
she had cut 11 inches of her hair off that week and donated it, in Catie's honor,
to "Locks of Love". It is an organization that collects donated hair (10 inches
or more) to make wigs for cancer patients.
Five months after Catie passed away, Elizabeth graduated with her master of education
degree in learning and technology. "Having my studies online is the only way I could
have gone back to school," said Elizabeth. "I teach full-time, play piano for a
church and teach private piano lessons, but most importantly, I wanted to be with
Catie as much as I could."
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