Jes Bouchard

BS Justice Studies - Terrorism & Homeland Sec., Class of 2015

"I looked at grad school programs and felt that SNHU would be an excellent fit."

Fresh out of high school 14 years ago, I had no desire to go to school. I wanted to try, but really, it wasn't an option. I had spent a bulk of my senior year of high school living in my car; school wasn't a priority. Surviving was. I worked a full-time job and several part-time jobs just to get by. While my friends were all in college, I was working. And then, life happened. In 2004, my boss called me into her office after saying several times that she couldn't understand me on the phone. She asked me a question, I answered her, and her response was, "You're stuttering." I tried to say, "No, I'm not," but it came out as, "N-n-n-no, I'mmmm n-n-no-not."

My symptoms got worse, and doctors said I probably had a virus that attacked my nervous system. A year went by with my symptoms coming and going, increasing and decreasing in severity. By August of 2005, things were so bad I was sent to the Mayo Clinic. They told me I had a paraneoplastic syndrome. More specifically, a paraneoplastic neurological disorder with Antigen-yo. Antigen-yo causes breast, gynecological and lung cancers.

These antigens mirror proteins in your spine and brain, and the body fights both, trying to attack the cancer, but causing many neurological issues. To make a very long story short, I've got dozens of symptoms (neuropathy, hyperesthesia, gastroperesis, and many more). At some point, I could no longer work, and I was bored within days. I decided it was time to go to school. I started at a local community college and my experience was amazing. I knew I had to keep pushing through. I ended up getting my Associate of Science degree, and went on to a private university where I got a BS in Sociology with a Criminal Justice concentration. I knew I wanted to keep going even though I continued to have multiple doctors' appointments each week. I looked at grad school programs and felt that SNHU would be an excellent fit.

My first term I ended up being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, had multiple surgeries, even more doctors' appointments, and yet I was still able to do my assignments. The convenience of the online classes made it easier, sure, but I could not have done it without the wonderful faculty who continued to encourage me and work with me when the timeline was tight to finish something. Even as I write this, I am in Houston at MD Anderson, one of the best cancer hospitals in the world. My professors have worked with me and encouraged me, and I could not have gotten this far without them, my faith, my friends and my family. So what's next? I'm going to beat the cancer. I'm going to get better. And I'm going to teach at a community college. I may even see you on Blackboard, but not as a student—as a professor.