Belchertown, Massachusetts, resident and Elizabeth Dole Foundation Caregiver Fellow Betty O’Brien ’18, a business major at The American Women’s College, was presented with the Pathfinder Award at Bay Path University's 121st Commencement.
“I was completely shocked and humbled when my name was announced as the Pathfinder Awardee,” O’Brien said. “Once it sank in, I was honored to be recognized for all my hard work, sacrifices, and progress toward my ultimate goal of getting my degree and furthering my role as an advocate.”
The Pathfinder Award was established by Mr. John H. Davis in honor of his wife, Robyn B. Davis, past Chair of the Bay Path University Board of Trustees. It is bestowed upon a graduating adult woman from the One Day A Week College or from The American Women’s College Online who has achieved academic excellence with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 while balancing family, career, and community service responsibilities.
O’Brien began her educational journey more than 20 years ago, but as a single mom with three small children, finishing a college degree wasn’t possible. In 2013, her oldest son, an Avionics Technician on F-15 Fighter Jets in the Air Force, was diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer, and the level of care he needed post-operation required that O’Brien put her career on hold. An Air Force veteran herself, his diagnosis motivated her to earn a college degree so she could advocate for individuals in similar situations, unable to advocate for themselves. O’Brien took up online learning and studied wherever and whenever she could, working from hospital rooms, waiting rooms, hotel rooms, and on airplanes. In February of this year, she was named the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Caregiver Fellow for Massachusetts and is now advocating on behalf of 5.5 million military caregivers and their families.
O’Brien completed her bachelor of science in business administration through The American Women’s College at Bay Path University with an unblemished academic record, graduating with a GPA of 4.0. She continues to care for her son, who is doing remarkably well.