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Joplin mom overcomes adversity to graduate from KCU

May 3—Joplin mom Alice Pulsipher mentioned her journey to medical college has been a tough one, however after Sunday’s graduation for the KCU Joplin class of 2024, she can be Dr. Alice Pulsipher, inside drugs specialist and a resident within the Freeman Internal Medicine Residency Program.

“Here’s what’s amazing about Alice,” mentioned Dr. Jo Enscoe, assistant vice provost for pupil companies at KCU’s Joplin campus. “She is kind, she is compassionate and she is a person that, even when she has gone through so much difficulty in her life, has never lost her shine. She kept shining and helping others even when she was going through turbulent times. And she made it through.”

Enscoe mentioned it is onerous for her to comprehend the challenges Pulsipher, her one son and three daughters have overcome.

“Seriously girl, you are the epitome of grit,” Enscoe instructed Pulsipher within the KCU cafeteria on Wednesday. “That’s what makes you so special. So many people can go through difficulties and then they become dark or harsh. She never lost her shine. She gets a better sense of humor as she goes on. She’s a light of hope for so many students because they’ve seen her do it after everything she’s been through, so now they know they can do it.”

Child mom

Pulsipher (no relation to former Mercy Hospital Joplin CEO Gary Pulsipher) sat down Wednesday together with her three daughters — Harley, 9; Riley, 11; and Dakota, 12. Her son, Jason, 16, was in school and could not attend.

Among her challenges:

—Homelessness whereas changing into a mom on the age of 16.

—Thyroid most cancers on the age of 23.

—The dying of her second husband in a car crash in Joplin in January 2022.

Haley Reardon, KCU spokeswoman, mentioned finishing medical college underneath splendid circumstances is tough.

“Doing so while overcoming incredible adversity is even more difficult,” Reardon mentioned. “With the support of her classmates and the Joplin community — and her inspiring tenacity — Alice persevered.”

Pulsipher grew up in Eagar, Arizona, close to the New Mexico border about 4 hours east of Phoenix, and it was as a teen in a phenomenal mountain city that her challenges started.

“I got pregnant when I was 15 and I had Jason when I was 16,” Pulsipher mentioned. She mentioned she ended up homeless whereas a youngster and “living in this little camper trailer that someone let us live in on someone’s random piece of land.”

Path to medical college

She took courses to earn her licensed nursing assistant certification earlier than she entered faculty, and he or she married the daddy of her son whereas nonetheless in highschool. But they quickly found out they weren’t meant to be collectively.

“So I was married and divorced before I graduated high school,” Pulsipher mentioned. “It was wild. I think about that now and I think, ‘Wow!’ I think about my 16-year-old, and it just blows my mind to think about that.”

Pulsipher mentioned she moved to one other city in Arizona and met her second husband, Ryan Pulsipher, and married him at age 19. The couple had their three ladies and moved to Elko, Nevada, the place she turned an X-ray technician.

The couple moved again to Arizona the place her husband labored as an electrician for a mining firm.

Alice Pulsipher took courses to study to function MRI machines. During one class, she volunteered to be the affected person so college students might study neck imaging. The instructor mentioned her thyroid regarded odd so she received it checked out, studying that she had thyroid most cancers at age 23.

“I went through the treatment and had my thyroid removed and had radioactive iodine therapy,” Pulsipher mentioned. “About the same time I was finishing a bachelor’s degree in advanced radiological sciences and I had always wanted to be a doctor. During my childhood I had seven broken arms between the ages of five and 12. I had this orthopedic surgeon that took care of me and I adored her. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up, but people like me don’t go to medical school.”

She began medical faculties, making use of to 50 and receiving eight acceptance letters. As she interviewed with choices together with Ohio, Idaho and Arizona, KCU turned her favourite candidate. She interviewed at KCU’s Kansas City campus and realized she had been accepted to the Joplin campus.

“I had never heard anything about Joplin except for the tornado,” Pulsipher mentioned. “But the day I got the acceptance letter, my kids and I were watching the ‘Dumbo’ movie and in the opening sequence they show Joplin. I said, ‘This is a sign, we’ve got to go.’ It was so bizarre. So here we are, in Joplin, Missouri.”

Tragedy in Joplin

In 2019, she and her son drove a U-Haul truck from Arizona to Jasper the place they moved into a house giant sufficient for a spouse, husband, 4 youngsters and her husband’s grandparents, who have been dwelling with them on the time. That first yr in medical college did not go easily.

“I was working at Mercy Carthage Hospital and Mercy Joplin Hospital as an X-ray and CT Tech,” Pulsipher mentioned. “Medical school is not meant for people to have jobs, so I failed my first year and I had to repeat. So I focused everything on school and my kids and got rid of the job. The kids have pretty good senses of humor. I started again and I honored my next year, so to go from failing to honoring — one extreme to the other — that was crazy. I got the award for being the highest ranked student in the honors society, which blew my mind.”

Tragedy creeped again into Pulsipher’s life when Ryan’s grandfather died of a stroke late in 2021. Then in January 2022, Ryan was killed in a car crash in Joplin, upending the whole lot the household had labored for.

“I don’t know how I stayed in school,” she mentioned. “I had people keeping me in school. I had my best friend, Collin, who’s a medical student, and his wife, Chloe, who teaches at my kids’ school. They took us into their little tiny house and kept us alive for the immediate couple of months there. I sold my house in Jasper. I couldn’t go back home, it was too much, too emotional. They lived a couple of blocks from campus here. And they had this little tiny house and it was just him and his wife, and all of a sudden they add five people to their little tiny house. We were crammed in there. But I think that’s what we needed at the time was that closeness.”

Recovery and commencement

Alice mentioned her buddies have been useful together with her kids and KCU was “incredibly accommodating.”

“Dr. Enscoe, she talked me through a lot of things, she was a really awesome sounding board,” Pulsipher mentioned. “The school offers free counseling, which I used a lot and I still use a lot. They let me take extra time on tests. Or if I needed more time to study, they would let me do so. They really did what I needed to do so I could stay in school and still pass. I had my kids’ friends and families from school, they really helped a lot. My sister moved from Arizona to help me. I had a lot of support come out of the woodwork to help me stay in.”

In March, she received a letter saying she had been matched with the Freeman Internal Medicine Residency Program and can be staying in Joplin.

“That is the best scenario I could have asked for,” she mentioned. “I didn’t want to uproot my kids. We have created a home here, we have support here, we’re here to stay. Being able to actually make that happen, I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”

Alice mentioned staying right here additionally will assist her kids heal in spite of everything they have been by means of.

“They’re hurt and they’ve been hurt, and that’s the last thing I want is for them to be hurt,” she mentioned. “And I want to fix them, and I can’t fix everything, unfortunately. But they’ve been really good at helping me. Sometimes I wonder who the parent is. They definitely help me.”

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