Stories of Excellence–Joleen Beckham

Joleen Beckham has much to be proud of. At 24, she has accomplished goals she once never thought possible. And her experiences at Mitchell have played a critical role in guiding her to the path she is on today.


Beckham’s life took an unexpected turn when she entered into a negative relationship in high school and became pregnant at 16. During this time, she was hospitalized. The experience opened a door for her, leading her to pursue a future helping others. “The nurses were so kind to me in my darkest moment that I decided to pursue a career in nursing,” Beckham said. “I knew I had to pay it forward and help others.” Beckham began her journey by earning her GED, studying from home while caring for her baby.


She chose to attend Mitchell to further her education. During her first year, she decided to seek counseling to help her overcome her PTSD from past experiences. This decision changed her life in more ways than one. Counseling helped her not only overcome challenges, but also set Beckham on a new career trajectory. “Counseling was life changing for me. I knew this is what I really wanted to do,” Beckham stated regarding her decision to pursue a career in psychology. “This is the path God has put me on. I went through all this so that I could understand others who have suffered.”


Beckham enrolled in psychology courses and immediately fell in love with them. She found all the instructors at Mitchell helpful, but a few really stood out. Instructors Ryan Cannon, Gary West, Natalie Harris, and Chris Yockey all had an impact on her life. Mrs. Yockey’s English class was one of the more difficult classes Beckham took, but she embraced the challenge and grew in her skills. Beckham’s dedication earned her a spot as an English tutor at the MIND center for two years. Beckham cited the MIND Center as one of the most helpful services at Mitchell, both as a student receiving services and as a tutor providing help.


Beckham had many accomplishments during her time at Mitchell. She organized Mitchell’s first team to participate in the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, raising $500 for suicide prevention. Beckham was one of the first Student Ambassadors and was the founding member of Woman2Woman–Mitchell’s women’s professional development and support group. She was also a member of Mitchell’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. She also volunteered in the community with various agencies including the Valley Nursing Rehabilitation Center, Friends of the Library, and vacation bible school.


In May 2020, Beckham graduated with her Associates of Arts degree, maintaining a 3.93 GPA. She has been accepted to Lenoir-Rhyne University and just completed her first semester, taking 12 credit hours this summer. Beckham was recently honored with Mitchell’s 2020 President's Award, an annual honor given to an outstanding graduate. Cheering her on and celebrating these accomplishments with her are her family members, fiancé and son.


In addition to continuing her education, Beckham also works at Mitchell part-time as an Admissions Specialist. “Dr. Brannon was instrumental in me getting that position. She has always gone out of her way to help students,” Beckham noted. The work in Admission is fulfilling to Beckham. “Getting to see students take their first steps toward their goals is an amazing experience, especially knowing all the things that Mitchell has done for me.”


Joleen is scheduled to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2022. She will then go on to get her master’s and doctorate degrees. She hopes to one day open her own psychiatric practice specializing in mental health. “As tragic as some of the things in my life were, I would not change a thing. I know that I am on the right path, and Mitchell helped me get there,” she said. “I have changed from a scared child to someone who has better public speaking skills, much less social anxiety, and is so determined to achieve my goals.”


Beckham’s advice to students is “Don’t give up. There is always someone out there to help whether financial, academically, or mentally. You just have to reach out and someone at Mitchell is always willing to help you.”


Explore degrees, diploma and certificate programs Mitchell offers and find out how to apply. Gain a new skill or expand your career opportunities through our short-term Continuing Education programs. For additional support, speak to our Admissions staff at (704) 978-5493 or 

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