woman standing in cap and gown
Tymika Bell, a student in the College of Allied Health Sciences, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Health Services. Fall Commencement will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at the James Brown Arena. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

Graduation Week 2021: Health services grad proves it’s never too late to chase your dream

A first-generation college student and mother of three, Tymika Bell at 44 years old is reaching her dream of graduating from Augusta University.

“I have three children and it means the world to me to prove to them that you’re never too old for your dreams. Though you have obstacles that get in your way, you can still achieve your dreams,” said Bell, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Health Services from the College of Allied Health Sciences.

Life sidetracked Bell out of high school. She was a single mom and focused on work to provide for her daughter, but she knew someday she wanted to go back for her degree. When the moment came and she got accepted at AU, it was emotional.

“I was crying. I had to catch my breath and stuff. I was literally in tears because it was like, oh wow, I’m really going to college,” added Bell. “My mother was a single mother, I was a single mother with my first daughter. So when she heard I was going back to school, it was like yes! She pushed me 1,000%.”

Her husband of 16 years has been one of her biggest supporters.

“He was a great encourager. I always talked about wanting to be a nurse and he said, stop talking about it and go do it. I was like, you’re right.”

Bell’s children are 25, 14 and 9 years old, and they look up to her as role model. Her eldest child is enrolled at AU, too. She is a junior biology major in the College of Science and Mathematics and wants to be a gynecologist.

“My oldest daughter tells me when she gets discouraged, she looks at me and says, ‘I got discouraged today and I looked at you and if my mom can do it, I can do it.’”

Bell was nervous about going back the classroom. After all, she was usually the oldest student in her classes. Instead of struggling, she flourished as professors and other students helped when needed. Not only did they encourage Bell, but one professor also told her since she was older, that wisdom would be a benefit and that she shouldn’t be intimidated.

Bell’s first job in the medical field was at a nursing home. It’s where she fell in love with interacting with the residents. A lot of them didn’t have family. Bell fit the role and they made each other smile.

Bell knows there’s more challenges ahead, but has faith in herself to meet them head-on and be successful. Her next goal is to become a nurse, so there’s more studying on the horizon. Eventually, she’d like to work in geriatrics.

“I feel they’re defenseless and they need people to help them when there’s no one to help them. I want to be the one that does that.”

Augusta University’s Fall 2021 Commencement will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at the James Brown Arena. Watch the ceremony via livestream.
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Written by
Kevin Faigle

Kevin Faigle is Media Relations Specialist at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at kfaigle@augusta.edu.

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Written by Kevin Faigle

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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Students smiling for a photo in front of the James Brown statue downtown.