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Candice Taylor finishes what she started

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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Christine Neider, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science

Reviewed by Christina Neider, EdD, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Some long-standing goals need a spark to get started, a front-runner who paves the way for what is possible. Sometimes it also takes a financial pathway and a couple of cheerleaders to get across the finish line.

This is how it went for Candice Taylor, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology* in 2021 and a Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology in 2023.

“Ever since graduating high school I had the desire to go back and further my education. It was always in the works,” Taylor says. 

Meet Phoenixes like Candice. Make connections, build relationships and be part of a growing community. 

Becoming the front-runner

Taylor tried a few times to start college but ran up against multiple barriers. At 17, she was expecting her first child. She enrolled in college but could not complete those first semesters while balancing new motherhood.

A few years later, Taylor again felt the nudge toward school. “At the time, I was working as a food technician for an early childhood school,” she says. “I admired the school’s principal at the time. She couldn’t have been more than 10 years older than me, and she was a principal.”

Taylor came to believe that what stood between her and being a leader in the workforce was a degree. She was inspired to go back to school and wanted to give it her full attention. To help support her subsequent break from the workforce, Taylor lived with relatives. She successfully completed one semester of college, but transportation and child care halted her progress.

Fortunately, Taylor had an advocate in her sister, Toni Adams, who understood the difficulties Taylor faced.

“Being raised in New Orleans during the ’90s,” Adams explains, “we did not have positive role models or individuals who were able to achieve success within our communities. We only had the basic necessities, and that is essentially what got us through.”

Adams also ardently believed that a college degree was the best way forward, not only for Taylor (and herself) but also for their community at large.

“[In] gaining my degree,” Adams says, “and knowing that our upbringing was not the most pleasant, it paved the way for others to obtain that as well.” 

Finding her reboot

Paving the way for others sounds good in theory, but Taylor had very real obstacles. Then, one serendipitous evening after stepping back from her degree six years earlier, a University of Phoenix television commercial grabbed her attention. She had seen the commercials a few times before, but something in that moment brought it all together.

Taylor had recently started working at Ochsner Health. She now had four boys, but they were older, more settled, and Taylor had transportation this time around.

Candice Taylor

Candice Taylor
UOPX alumna

“The timing felt right,” she says, exuding confidence and conviction. “I believe it was the testimonials and graduation ceremonies of recent grads that sealed the deal for me."

Taylor got online to explore UOPX’s offerings and saw how a bachelor’s degree program could fit within her lifestyle, even though she was balancing parenting and work. 

UOPX, she learned, is different. Its programs are online, so she could build classes into her schedule in a way that worked for her. The career-relevant programs, meanwhile, are geared toward working adults who want to enhance their skill sets and their careers. 

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Selecting her degree program turned out to be the easy part. “My family and friends always felt comfortable talking to me,” Taylor says. “But I didn’t feel I knew the answers.” She believed that a bachelor’s degree in psychology would equip her with the tools and theories she needed to provide those answers.

Adams couldn’t agree more. “Candice has always had a passion to be of service to others. Her dedication and commitment to the field and to utilize her expertise to be an agent for change has always been her goal.” 

Learning how to learn

When Taylor started the program, her boys spanned the ages of 16 to 4. Taylor felt supported by them, but she quickly realized some changes were necessary.

“The bachelor’s was a whole new experience. My biggest challenge was time management. I admit I did some procrastinating early on,” she says with a self-deprecating laugh. “But I realized that wasn’t going to work. There was no balance at first. I was just winging it. I became so overwhelmed.”

Taylor pauses to take a deep breath. “I had to stop and create a system to prioritize.” 

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Adams stayed by Taylor’s side when things got tough. “I continued to share with her the importance of finishing what you start. If you make a commitment to something, stick with it no matter how difficult it may get,” Adams says.

Then there was the pressure of being a leader. Adams told Taylor, “We need you! Our communities need you. You have come so far, and this is your time. You can do anything you set your heart to.”

Taylor’s schedule at Ochsner Health aligned well with her parenting and school responsibilities. She read her assignments during lunch breaks and in between taking patients.

What Taylor didn’t know at the outset was that Ochsner offers a tuition reduction at UOPX.

“It was during a one-on-one with my then-manager that she mentioned the company’s tuition [reduction] with UOPX,” Taylor says. This was the financial pathway Taylor needed to “keep the momentum,” pursue her Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and set an even stronger example for her community.


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Real-world impacts

The coursework was not without its ups and downs. Taylor says she “always had a level of anxiety about math classes.” She didn’t pass some of the courses and thought about stepping away. Then, while enrolled in statistics, she found a support group and pursued the resources UOPX offers.

This made all the difference. She able to successfully complete those courses and encountered some happy surprises in other subjects, like sociology. “I loved deep diving into different cultural backgrounds and studying effects,” she says. “As I continued my degree program, I began to see myself working in a position where I could help individuals realize their potential and support them through their challenges.”

Taylor started identifying the top skills she was learning in class and applying them on the job. This grew her motivation and confidence to apply for senior-level roles.

“I saw a significant increase in my ability to take on more responsibilities,” Taylor explains. “As time went on, the motivation just grew.”

It paid off. Taylor was promoted to the position of senior patient access representative in January 2019 and then to a supervisor role in February 2020.

Taylor’s growing family also benefited from her increased confidence. “It took me five years to complete,” she says, “but getting the bachelor’s degree helped me help them,” she says. “Before I started going to school, I had a lack of confidence to communicate with [my kids’] teachers. But then I started to look at my kids’ interactions with their teachers and became more inquisitive. I wanted to help my kids develop better practices and do better on the homework to maximize their experience in school.”

Taylor also got married during her degree program and credits her husband and faith in God as additional inspiration for finishing the degrees. “I have to pay homage to my husband, because he motivated me to keep going towards my master’s and now my doctoral degree. He continues to encourage me by telling me that I have what it takes, and I can do it despite how I started out.”

When Taylor completed her master’s degree, she traveled to California with her two younger sons for the graduation ceremony.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she says. Taylor pauses and looks away, as if seeing the scene all over again. “When I look back, it was a huge moment. I could see their faces and that they were proud.”

Adams adds, “Witnessing her walk across that stage was a special and proud moment. Where we are from, not many reach that level, so I am very proud of her.”

What would Taylor say to her younger self just embarking on her educational journey? “I would tell myself to manage your time, take it one class at a time, one discussion post at a time. Don’t overthink. Take deep breaths. Enjoy!”

She smiles and adds, as an echo to her sister, “And finish what you’ve started!”

*The Bachelor of Science in Psychology has since been retired.

Stephanie Hoselton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Hoselton has always enjoyed a good story. She gained an English degree from Texas A&M University with the plan to teach or write. She fell into recruiting instead and has never looked back. Stephanie spent over a decade in agency recruiting, placing candidates at SAP, Verizon and across financial services and healthcare. She started in Talent Acquisition with the University of Phoenix in 2021. She loves hearing candidates tell their career stories, and she especially loves sharing the story that is UOPX.

 

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