Online Graduate Celebrates Diploma and Wedding at Graduation


Graduation is oftentimes one of the biggest days of a person’s life. Years of sacrifice and studying culminate in the moment that the diploma is received. But what if that milestone were combined with another big life moment? Maybe a wedding?

That’s exactly what happened to recent Belhaven graduate Danielle Lewis. Immediately following her commencement ceremony, where she received a Bachelor of Health Administration from Belhaven. Diploma in hand, she married the love of her life, Joseph.

“My professors at Belhaven were so supportive during my journey, and my husband sacrificed so that I could finish my degree,” said Danielle in a recent interview. I could not think of anyone better to share the moment with.”

Danielle’s journey to Belhaven was unexpected. A 44-year old mother, she worked as a registered nurse in intensive care units and emergency room until 2011, where an injury forced her to leave a career that she loved.

“I was devastated,” recalled Lewis. “After working for 12 years in critical care nursing and building a good life for my daughter, I lost it all.”

Through all of the treatments and pain, Danielle still felt that she had more to give. Being bound to a wheelchair made it impossible to return to her old job, so she began to pray about going back to school. Her faith led her to seek a Christian university, and she enrolled in the BHA program through Belhaven’s online program.

“I loved what Belhaven had to offer,” said Lewis. “Belhaven really values family. From the first conversations that I had with admission counselors, I could tell that Belhaven was for me.”

Her time as a student was also spent having surgeries and receiving physical therapy. Belhaven’s flexible online program allowed her to not fall behind.

“I was doing assignments from hospital beds,” Lewis said. “The online format was key in allowing me to finish the degree.”

In April of 2015, Danielle began intensive physical therapy to help her walk again. Within a year, she participated in her first 5k race, and of course, finished her degree and got married. Her and her fiancée chose to be married at the Atlanta campus graduation by a Belhaven staff member.

“It was very special to exchange our vows in front of everyone that contributed to my success,” said Lewis. “It was certainly a blessed day to graduate and get married to someone who stayed by my side through everything I went through.”

Shortly after the big day, Danielle updated her Linkedin profile to reflect her graduate status. Within a few days, she received a call from one of the largest internal medicine groups in North Carolina, where she now works as the practice manager. She has also enrolled in the Master of Health Administration program through Belhaven Online.

“It’s amazing how God pulled everything together,” said Danielle. “I have come so far in such a short amount of time, and I have to thank Belhaven for their important role in my life.”

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