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Debra Canady from Round Rock, Texas Joined Reality TV Star Dr. Jennifer Arnold in Speaking at Ultimate Medical Academy’s Spring Commencement

TAMPA, Fla., April 23, 2018—Debra Canady, the admissions representative at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Round Rock (Encompass) in Round Rock, Texas traveled to Tampa, Florida to deliver the graduating student address at the Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) Commencement ceremony on Saturday, April 21.

She shared the stage with UMA’s Commencement speaker, Dr. Jennifer Arnold, Medical Director of the Simulation Center at St. Petersburg, Florida’s Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, neonatologist, and cancer survivor. Dr. Arnold is also widely known for starring in The Little Couple, a decade-long-running reality TV show on TLC that chronicles her home life with her husband, Bill Klein, and their two children. Arnold and Klein each have a rare form of dwarfism and have had multiple surgeries.

Canady, 56, is a recent graduate of the UMA Online Healthcare Management Associate Degree Program. She spoke before an audience of almost 1,000 UMA graduates at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa and a total of 7,600 UMA graduates from around the country who participated via livestream and were recognized at UMA’s largest Commencement ceremony.

“I am a testament to the fact that if you believe in yourself, set measurable goals, manage your time properly, and surround yourself with positive people, you can achieve,” Canady told the graduates and their families and friends.

Two years ago, Canady was in an extremely abusive relationship. When she summoned the courage to leave, she knew she would have to completely start over. To give her some stability, she renewed her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license and started work as a CNA in private home health. This gave her an income and the ability to start looking at furthering her education.

“I always knew that I was intelligent and wanted a degree, but life and bad choices kept getting in the way,” Canady said. “In my search for a degree program, I found UMA and decided to call. This was the best decision of my life.”

She added, “So, in two years, I went from not knowing where my next meal would come from, to standing in front of you today and giving a commencement speech. I graduate with a degree from UMA and a 4.0 GPA. I now also work at a job I truly love as the admissions representative for Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital.”

“All of you told me I could do it and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To you, my fellow graduates, I must say that I enjoyed engaging with you in discussion posts … that was some wonderful time and talk! As you launch your careers, remember my favorite quote by the Reverend Eloise Page, ‘It is better to shoot for the moon and miss, than shoot for nothing and hit it.’  Thank you and congratulations!”