Taking a chance for a new beginning

Published By: ChaNaè Bradley July 10, 2017

Hephzibah Beulah, a non-traditional student at Fort Valley State University, takes notes during chemistry class.

The thought of giving up a steady profession and re-enrolling in college as a freshman may cause an individual to “stay the course” and rethink their decision. However, one Fort Valley State University sophomore is at peace in making a career change.

Hephzibah Beulah, a 42-year old mother of three, was once in the nursing profession, a lucrative field where qualified applicants are in high demand.

For 16 years the Leesburg native worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for Lee County Health Care and Rehabilitation. She was influenced to pursue a career in nursing because of her love of science and family members who are both registered nurses.

A shifting focus in the health care system caused Beulah to have second thoughts about continuing her nursing career.

“Everything was changing so much from the very core reason as to why I wanted to be a nurse. It became more about customer service than it was health care, nursing and taking care of people. The atmosphere was no longer conducive for me to do what I did with the moral compass that I have. I didn’t like where it was going politically and economically. It got to where I couldn’t sleep at night, I wasn’t happy, and my conscience wasn’t clear,” Beulah said.  

Job dissatisfaction eventually caused Beulah to look into other fields to make a living. Beulah didn’t want to get into education and become a teacher or work in corporate America.

“I thought about a lot of professions, then I said, ‘What about agriculture?’”

Beulah felt she needed guidance in selecting agriculture as a way to make a living.  “I knew I was way out of my league when it came to farming,” Beulah said. She decided to call a friend of to ask them if they knew anybody who could give her proper instruction, because she wanted to be a farmer. They answered yes and immediately recommended the College of Agriculture at Fort Valley State University.

Beulah uninformed of FVSU’ agriculture programs scheduled a tour to become acquainted in 2015.

During the tour, she met several employees and instructors including Dr. James Brown, professor of horticulture and interim program leader of agriculture and natural resources.

“Knowing that she was a licensed nurse before coming here, I questioned (her) why is it she wants to leave a job where she has a steady income to come here? She said her passion is horticulture, which is what she wanted to do and she had no problem with that. She knew in her heart that this is what God called her to do,” Brown said.

Brown, who Beulah now considers a mentor, said that Beulah’s decision to choose farming focusing on horticulture is a wise one because it its very lucrative.

“It is very intensive farming, but it gives you a lot of satisfaction. You get good exercise, and it’s ideal for a person who loves to be outside,” said the veteran horticulturalist.

Hephzibah Beulah, a non-traditional student at Fort Valley State University, leans on farm implement at FVSU's holistic organic farm

“When I left here (FVSU), I knew I was going to resign from my job, and enroll if I was accepted that fall,” Beulah said after her visit. She said her experience was phenomenal because everybody she came in contact with promoted FVSU and made her feel comfortable.

Beulah’s study habits caught the attention of some of her instructors, including Dr. Tiffani Holmes, an associate professor of chemistry at FVSU.

Holmes said Beulah’s poise in the classroom is exceptional. “In my opinion, she brings to the classroom life experiences. I think she’s able to see concepts and problems from a different perspective because she’s been in the workforce,” Holmes said. The FVSU instructor added that in addition to treating her as a peer, some students approach Beulah maternally and consider her a mentor because of her experience.

Despite giving up a job, steady income and health benefits, Beulah has no regrets about leaving the nursing profession and becoming a full time student. She says she will promote FVSU to individuals looking to pursue an education and possibly a career change.

“Fort Valley is the place to be if you are looking for a career change like me. I’m 42, a mother of three children, I have to commute an hour and twenty minutes and I gave up a job where I was making quite a bit of money. Now that I’m here, I like the level of support that Fort Valley offers,” Beulah said.

Beulah, who is an ordained minister, founded Only Believe International Ministries in 2008. After graduation she eventually plans to put her horticulture degree to use while doing missionary work in Africa. “I know that spiritually, as far as my ministry is concerned, I am called to Africa,” Beulah said. Beulah says that using her horticulture degree will help her get acclimated to the surroundings. In communicating with people already there, Beulah says they are excited that she is getting a degree in an agricultural field.

“They are looking forward to me passing on information and knowledge to them about horticulture,” Beulah said.