Just three months into the program, however, a major car accident revealed a brain tumor. She had her first surgery in February of the following year. That same spring, her husband left her.
Salter’s friends encouraged her to take a break. “I remember when she was studying to complete her doctorate, she was dealing with very serious brain surgery,” Mammo recalls. “She acted like that wasn’t a factor. I was in awe of her perseverance to see her goals and hard work come to fruition.”
Focusing on something besides her health and relationship gave Salter an objective to work toward. And, in some ways, school came first. “Each time I had one of my surgeries, I made sure it was when we were having a week-and-a-half break,” Salter says.
In 2012, her dissertation was accepted, but doctors found what was her third tumor after repairing a brain aneurysm. “The third one did send me over the edge,” Salter admits, “because my brain didn’t have time to heal from all the surgeries. Luckily, I’m still alive, and I have all of my bodily functions … which is very rare — but I’m a rare person.”
Today, Salter’s health is stable, and she’s able to focus on the things that matter most to her. She is a senior learning and development specialist at Alameda Health System, where she can gratify her love of learning and mentoring as she trains her company’s leaders in the art of effective leadership. She also started a mentorship program.
Looking back, Salter acknowledges the challenges she’s faced without letting them define her. “It’s a blessing that you have whatever you have in life,” she says. “But it’s up to you what you do with life.”
Read more alumni stories on our blog!