Developing skilled professionals who live the healing values of Christ means being an institution where students are cared for – mind, body, and spirit – so that they may carry those values forward in their career as caregivers. Charde’ Holt is one student who lived this mission, pursued her dream, and overcame many personal challenges along the way.
“I grew up poor, in a small town,” explained Holt. Rather than attend preschool, she helped her single mother take care of her grandmother, who was a three-time cancer survivor of the lungs and larynx. “She was 4’10”, had no voice, and carried oxygen as tall as she was,” said Holt.
She taught Holt about Jesus and the Bible, as well as how to count, sing the alphabet, draw, and more. In return, Holt helped her with baths, medications, and reaching items high in the cabinet where she could climb. “I feel like I was born into caring for others,” she said.
She recalled how “the strength and knowledge of Christianity my grandmother instilled in me was at peak.” And, that she “wouldn’t have known how much I was going to need it after this point.” When her grandmother passed away during her freshman year at high school, she felt she had lost everything.
She found happiness again as a cheerleader for two years until she suffered a traumatic brain injury. She recalled, “I lost the ability to speak properly, and could no longer cheer. I had over a hundred seizures a week, so I could no longer attend school. At this point, I was in deep depression.” She described her struggles with addiction to pain medications, which she took from waking to sleeping. “I did not want to remember. I did not want to be present. I even began dropping out of school. I started giving up.”
When Holt’s friends were accepted into a collegiate high school where advanced students could earn full-time college credit as they earned their high school credits, her best friend recommended she take the acceptance test. While suffering through migraines and side-effects from her medications, she tried and failed the entrance exam.
At the insistence of her mother, Holt tried again and was accepted. Upon finishing, she had earned her first college degree at the age of 18. She said, “I knew I could only afford to apply to one college. My mother and I navigated the process of applying to college alone.”
Holt applied and was accepted to AHU. She said, “As a first-generation college student, I … felt the pressure on me. I could not fail.” She decided to become a physician’s assisant. For a while, life was going well. She was earning good grades and had become engaged. “My fiancé was such a huge supporter of me getting into PA school,” she said.
Three months later, her fiancé, who had cystic fibrosis and was awaiting a double lung transplant, developed pneumonia. At his bedside in the ICU, while he was comatose, Holt would read healing scriptures. He passed away at 21. Holt recalled the painful moment, saying “I cried every single day for a year, because I missed him, and it seemed as if everything I loved died in some fashion.”
Not long after, life presented another series of tumultuous twists for Holt and her family. She was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension, leading to many hospitalizations and neurology appointments. Simultaneously, her mom had escaped an abusive marriage and became homeless.
Holt said, “I remember missing so much work due to being sick. I remember … I’d have candy for dinner. [I remember] wringing the rainwater out of my clothing after walking to appointments or the pharmacy.” Through it all, she persevered until earning her bachelor’s degree. She said, “I never wanted to be a burden to anyone … despite the pain, I kept going. Something inside of me kept me going.”
Unlike other students in her class, Holt could only afford to apply to one PA program, and she chose AHU’s highly competitive PA program. She was accepted in the first round.
Now she is married, has a new home, and, as a certified PA, is working her “dream job” in emergency medicine. She said, “I was not alone. God was there …. Now, I understand why everything happened to me. God used me as a vessel, from the young age of 3, to do His work!”
Holt exemplifies the mission-focused, uncommonly compassionate student that AHU is blessed to mentor and develop. She said, “I am extending the healing ministry of Christ. I can’t get enough of older patients seeing me so young and insisting that I mentor their grandchildren, or being that guidance to other poor, first-generation college students who don’t know the way.”
AdventHealth Unviversity | January 2021