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NDSU Student Earns Degree Despite Set-back Due To Major Health Complications

Posted on May, 02 2014

Press Releases
Posted on May, 02 2014

Lacey Pike, a Human Development & Family Science student at North Dakota State University in the online child and adolescent development program, will be among the students who will receive a diploma at NDSU’s Commencement Ceremonies on May 17, 2014. Pike’s journey to graduation is one many students could not even imagine. Between health complications, taking care of her three children all under the age of 10, going to school full time and working in a work-study position, Pike has had more than her share of obstacles to overcome on her path to completing her education.

Photo of Lacey Pike

I might literally run up on stage and jump up and down.

- Lacey Pike,  
  NDSU Class of 2014

“I might literally run up on stage and jump up and down,” said Pike. An excitement many people will understand after hearing her story.

In 2011, Pike returned to school after an eight-year break, determined to earn her degree.

In January of 2013, her junior year, she experienced a loss of vision and had unbearable headaches. After a number of doctor visits, she was referred to an eye doctor and was diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri, a condition where the pressure in an individual’s skull increases much like a brain tumor but, there isn’t a tumor present. This pressure can cause swelling of the optic nerve resulting in vision loss.

Pike had to have surgery to place a shunt in her spinal canal, called a lumbar peritoneal shunt, in order to reduce the pressure, prevent the swelling of her optic nerve, and correct her vision. After a two and half month recovery from the surgery, during which Pike couldn’t see, she met with NDSU’s Division of Student Affairs to determine whether she needed to drop her classes or would be able to continue on. The Division of Student Affairs had Pike make the decision but, stressed that she would have to work closely with her professors in order to catch up. Pike was determined to graduate. She said, “I just thought to myself, ‘This time I’m finishing.’”

She worked with her professors, who she said were all very supportive, and had caught up with the rest of her classmates by the end of the Spring Semester 2013.

In May 2013, she started having the same symptoms again. The shunt was not working properly and had to be replaced. Pike had to undergo another surgery with another lengthy recovery. Once again, after her recovery, Pike worked with her professors in order to catch up in all of her classes.

Due to other complications with the shunt, Pike was hospitalized for a third time in the fall of 2013, another set-back to her education. Despite all of that, Pike, resilient as ever, caught up with all of her work once again.

Online classes made finishing school an achievable feat for Pike. “Without online classes this wouldn’t have been possible,” said Pike.

Without online classes this wouldn’t have been possible.

Although she has had to continue to have doctor and neurologist visits monthly, as well as seven spinal taps in the last year, Pike is on the home stretch to receiving her degree and isn’t going to let anything stop her.

On May 17, 2014, less than one week after Mother’s Day, Pike will cross that stage and receive her diploma; a symbol of what is possible with an online education, a little work and a lot of determination. 


Written by: Shannon Jacobson, public relations and marketing intern