No challenge too big for health science studies graduate to overcome

February 06, 2020

profile on Sophie Connolly

Sophie Connolly '19 made the difficult but necessary decision to return home from college after her sophomore year due to medical issues. At the time, she was devastated to leave her friends, her studies and the campus.

Over the next two years, she focused on her health. Connolly is open about her mental illness, visual impairments, a learning disability as well as her physical, chronic illness. She feels deeply about making this public so that she may be a symbol for others who face their own set of challenges.

She wants others to know they can accomplish the goals they set out to achieve.

Two years after she came home from college and with the support of her family, Connolly decided to finish her degree. She chose Quinnipiac’s online BS in Health Science Studies.

At first, Connolly wasn’t too happy to be an online student. She longed for the ‘college life’ and felt like she was missing out; however, she quickly embraced her new path and successfully navigated work, classes, doctor appointments, family and friends.

The flexible online format allowed Connolly to manage her health at home, which was a very important piece to her success.

That’s not to say there wasn’t an adjustment period. Things were different. The professors were not a walk away like when she lived on campus.

She had to learn how to communicate with them differently. She did. She didn’t see her classmates on campus and yet, she made friendships and meaningful connections with them.

Connolly says that Quinnipiac’s online platform is for everyone and anyone. Online students have access to the physical campus and all of the resources as well.

Connolly worked with the Office for Student Accessibility and her professors to ensure she had the resources she needed to be successful in the health science studies program. Dr. Christine Fitzgerald, the program director and Connolly’s advisor, helped her navigate through it all and supported Connolly throughout her program.

Connolly had to make difficult adjustments to her original plan, but as she holds her Bachelor of Science in Health Science Studies degree, she says that she would not do anything differently.

Connolly’s focus and determination unlocked so many successes for her. One of those amazing accomplishments is her induction into the School of Health Science National Honor Society, Alpha Eta.

This distinguished award is a validation that her determination and perseverance are recognized on the highest level.

With confidence and her degree in hand, Connolly is now looking to the next chapter in her academic career. She is fulfilling her dream of becoming an Occupational Therapist.

She credits Quinnipiac’s Health Science Studies program for giving her relevant coursework that has laid the foundation for her future success in graduate school. Connolly is thankful for what she learned about herself during her time at Quinnipiac and looks forward to the next step in her inspiring journey.

Q & A

The online BS in Health Science Studies program is a completion program. Where did you earn the credits you transferred into QU’s program?

In 2013, I graduated from Morristown High School in New Jersey and went on to complete two years at James Madison University in Virginia. After my sophomore year, I did not return and took two years off to improve my health.

In this time, I was diagnosed with a mental illness, visual impairments and a learning disability on top of my chronic illness. Once I got a team of medical and family support, I felt ready to continue to pursue my bachelor’s degree through the QU online program!

Why did you decide to pursue a health science degree?

Since high school, I have known I wanted to be a pediatric occupational therapist. I decided to attend James Madison University, which did not offer a 5-year master’s program, so I chose health sciences as my undergraduate degree.

What class have you most enjoyed? Why?

Two classes that stand out to me are my first and last classes at Quinnipiac. The first class was “Visual Thinking.”

I have always been a visual and kinesthetic learner, and in this class, I got to learn the science behind these ways of learning. (You also had coloring and doodling homework which was always fun).

However, if I had to pick one class, it would be “Adaptive Leadership,” which I finished my degree with. In this class, in addition to learning leadership skills and how to apply them in a healthcare environment, I also got to reflect on myself and my abilities.

I found the many writing assignments to be therapeutic because I got to share my story and how my experiences shaped my leadership skills, such as empathy.

Who was your favorite professor? Why?

My favorite professor hands down was Professor AnnMarie Czajkowski. I was lucky enough to meet Professor Czajkowski during the single time I visited the Quinnipiac campus because she chose to support another student and myself during my time in the School of Health Science National Honor Society, Alpha Eta.

In her leadership class, I had to write about my leadership roles. This led to very personal content and allowed her to understand me on a different level than any other professor. Professor 'C' got to see the story behind the accommodations sent out to her by the office of disabilities, allowing for a strong bond!

She told me that she looked forward to reading my papers each week. I don’t think she knows how meaningful that comment was to me. Writing had always been a difficult task for me, but I still gave it my best.

To hear her say that, showed me how far I have come and reminded me of what I am capable of!

How has this program prepared you for a successful career in your chosen field?

From this program, I learned a lot that will help me not necessarily with Occupational Therapy but with being a health professional in general. I had the chance to learn about the healthcare system, bioethics, leadership, writing and the history of medicine.

I really enjoyed therapeutic exercise and athletic injuries because they were extremely relatable to OT. They even helped me when I was volunteering at an OT hand therapy practice.

What was it like balancing school and your personal life?

Balancing was great; I specifically chose the online platform to allow me to do things on my time. Although it was hard to accept, I understood that I needed to be home where I had my family and doctors, work a part-time job and continue classes.

The flexibility of this online program allowed me to do all of that. Throughout this program, I was given due dates, and it was on me to complete all my work by those dates.

When I started the program, I thought I would be required to log online and listen to live lectures, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Learn more about how Quinnipiac's online BS in Health Science Studies can help you reach your goals.

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