A Totally Unexpected Gift

by Dafna Yee
Plano, Texas, USA

Totally Unexpected Gift

I was in my mid thirties with two young children when I decided that I wanted to become a clinical psychologist. Getting a doctorate in clinical psychology is the most difficult program to enter with only a Bachelor’s degree. I had a GPA of 2.3 to show for my first attempt at college 15 years earlier. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

In order be admitted to a doctoral program, I would need a GPA of 3.7 and score at least 1250 points, out of a possible 1600, on the Graduate Record Exam. The University of Texas-Dallas required either a 30-page paper or a research project to graduate. I had chosen to work on a research project because I thought that research would look better on my application. My mentor, Richard Golden, Ph.D., went out of his way to help me with the research. Because of his help it looked like I was going to graduate with highest honors.

I made plans for my 92-year-old grandmother to make the trip from New York to Texas to see me graduate. I feared I would have to cancel these plans as I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about halfway through the semester. At about eight weeks prior to graduation, my MS had progressed to the point where I was no longer able to get to the university. I called the department secretary, Wanda, and told her that I couldn’t graduate. Since she was aware of all I had gone through over the previous two years, we were both crying, but we couldn’t think of anything.

Two days later I received a telephone call. Richard had taken it upon himself to work out special arrangements with the chairman of the department and the undergraduate dean. He said that they had decided to waive the last required course and that they would accept my thesis without results. He had taken it upon himself to get these concessions for me and ignored the objections.

His kindness gave me one of the happiest occasions of my life. My grandmother saw me graduate summa cum laude, and get a standing ovation from the audience. When the dean placed the medallion over my head and kissed me on the cheek, my daughter yelled out, “Stop that man, he’s kissing my Mommy!”

That’s not all. There was a totally unexpected benefit. Three years after I received my diploma, I learned about a university that offered degrees in psychology online. I am now halfway to my goal of a master’s degree in professional counseling that would have been impossible without the degree that I only received because of Richard’s unsolicited actions on my behalf. Not only did he change my life, but he enabled me to attain a position where I will be able to make differences in other people’s lives.

Originally published as HeroicStories #153 on June 16, 2000
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.

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