Commencement Stories: Patricia Mann, Devoting Her Life to Others

Patricia Mann, Excelsior CollegeFor more than thirty years, Patricia Mann has devoted her life to others, working the past 15 years as a respiratory therapist for premature infants for Children’s Health Care of Atlanta.

Passionate about lifelong learning and professional development, beginning in 1978 Mann took classes on her time at area colleges. Eventually, she hoped to turn those credits into a bachelor’s degree but wasn’t sure where to start.

A co-worker mentioned Excelsior College, and after researching the school’s liberal transfer policy, she enrolled in the school and worked with an advisor to apply the credits towards a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences – a degree she hoped would “enhance her respiratory therapist license.”

“I was totally frightened,” said Mann, when asked about taking her first online class. “I used other students to guide me on what was expected. It took a few classes, but eventually I stopped being as nervous. You get used to what’s expected.”

While she took a variety of courses, her favorites were those that were science-related or touching on other issues she dealt with on a day-to-day such as ethics or public policy.

“I had an opportunity to express how I really feel about things in life (that are) close to my heart…the Terry Schiavo case… abortion, immigration as it related to health care…I could express how I felt,” said Mann.

Balancing home, work and school though remained a challenge. Fortunately, her husband and grown children were incredibly supportive along the way, taking over some of her household responsibilities to give her more time for school work. They’ll join her for Commencement this July.

Mann loves working with children and has no plans to leave her current position. However, she didn’t pursue a higher education for career advancement alone. This was always personal.

“(This degree) just elevates me personally, because this is something I have worked for, that I have wanted for so long…for over thirty years. The fact that is finally happening is amazing to me.”


Name: Patricia Mann
Position: Respiratory Therapist, Children’s Health Care of Atlanta
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Hometown: Conyers, GA