19-Year-Old JPHCOPH student earns Bachelor of Science this May
You can do anything you put your mind to.
A saying that may be cliché to some has become a life motto for Georgia Southern student Arianna Archer. She has spent her whole life putting her mind to excelling in her academic career, and Saturday she’ll see her hard work come to fruition as she receives her Bachelor of Science in public health at age 19.
The Cuthbert, Georgia, native began her college career at just 17-years-old after having taken gifted and accelerated classes throughout her elementary, middle and high school years.
“My academic career has been a bit weird,” she said. Archer’s mother experienced numerous pregnancy and birthing complications, leading many doctors to believe Archer would be developmentally delayed.
“Then, when I was 5, my father was murdered, and it became a cold case,” she said. “We moved away from that town, and when I went to a new school, the teachers realized that I was academically ahead of the students in my class, so I began taking gifted classes.”
Archer continued on her gifted academic career, and once she was in high school she dual enrolled at Andrew College in Cuthbert. She took college classes in the morning and then high school classes in the afternoon, racking up 18 college credits she brought with her to Georgia Southern.
“The workload wasn’t really hard,” Archer said. “The challenges were moreso social adjustments. I had friends and things like that, but when I came to college, all my friends could go and do stuff that I couldn’t. It bothered me at first when I was younger, but now I just accept it.”
Despite her challenges, Archer found a home in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (COPH), referring to the college as a “small family.” Although she began her academic career at Georgia Southern as a nursing major, she quickly realized she enjoyed public health more and switched her major to health promotion and education.
“Once I started taking the science classes like chemistry and anatomy, I realized I didn’t like the hands-on side of healthcare,” she said. “So I changed my major to public health and fell in love with it. Even though you don’t don’t have to cure people and give medicine, there is another side of healthcare that you can still care for people.”
Archer has applied for the Master of Healthcare Administration program at Georgia Southern, and hopes to complete her second degree here to become a Double Eagle. This summer, she’ll intern with the Elder Rights Program in Georgia to help the elderly and underprivileged gain access to food stamps or assistance programs like WIC.
Eventually, Archer plans to go into hospital management, working her way up to being a hospital CEO.
“Public health is a way to help people that isn’t the ideal route for healthcare,” she said. “But it helps people in ways that others may not understand. As a healthcare administrator, you have the ability to put in place policies that could help thousands rather than just one.
“I could potentially implement something like a smoke-free campus that we have here at Georgia Southern, and helping a bigger population is what caught my attention — that I, by myself, could help thousands of people if I put my mind to it,” she said.
Receiving her bachelor’s degree is still a bit surreal for Archer, who said keeping her goals at the forefront of her mind has been a driving force in her educational career.
“Coming up to this point, it hasn’t really clicked to me that I’m 19 and about to get a degree, but the closer I get to graduation, I do feel very accomplished,” said Archer. “My thing is I tried to live life without regrets, and when mistakes happen, I try not to dwell on them or let them get me down. I use them as a building block or a lesson. I stay determined no matter what challenges I come across.”
And Archer has the same advice for others who are pursuing their dreams.
“Do what you want to do. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I couldn’t do things, that I wasn’t old enough or ready or mature,” she said. “But do what you want to do. Make sure your mindset is where it needs to be, make sure you stay focused, and you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers 119 degree programs serving 20,673 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.
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