In May 2014, Lacey Deardoff, ’17 was “living the normal 24-year-old life.” She was a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, and she was perfectly content with her bachelor’s degree and her life as a pharmaceutical technician at Quintiles in Overland Park, Kansas. Her job required that she work every third weekend, so as her friends were going out on the night of Friday, May 23, Lacey was planning to turn in early so she could be at work at 6:30 a.m. the next day. Little did she know how much her life would change the next morning.

As Deardoff was driving through pouring rain on I-435 on her way to work, she witnessed a driver spin out and crash into the median. When Deardoff pulled over to help the woman involved, another driver hydroplaned and lost control of his vehicle and struck both women. The accident occurred just outside Overland Park Regional Medical Center, where both women were taken and immediately induced into comas.

Deardoff had suffered an injury to her right eye, nine broken ribs, a broken shoulder, broken nose, broken collar bone, a broken leg (in three places), a collapsed lung, a head injury, and a stroke.

As she lay recovering in her hospital bed over the next few weeks, she grew annoyed by the saying “Everything happens for a reason.” Looking back now, Deardoff sees that notion in a different light.

“There is a silver lining to everything,” Deardoff said. “I think the silver lining to [the accident] is it gave me a perspective on life that I wouldn’t have had without it.”

Laughing at the irony, she added, “Things happen for a reason. Now, I guess I’ll say it.”

Starting the Next Chapter 

During her undergraduate work, Deardoff found that she wanted to do something in the medical field but just didn’t know quite what that was. At times, she thought about being a dentist or a doctor or a dental hygienist or a nurse, and took a variety of biology courses to expand her knowledge. Although she has her Bachelor of Science in General Studies, she was one course away from making it a BS in Human Biology. Her job in pharmaceutical research at Quintiles, a technician position, required her to draw blood, run ECGs, and take vital signs.

After graduating, she wondered whether furthering her education would be worthwhile, eventually deciding that she was content with her life as it was. Then the accident happened.

“After my accident, I had a whole new outlook on life,” Deardoff said. “Life is short. Why not do it? I don’t think I would have gotten my master’s if it hadn’t been for the accident. But after my accident, I was like, ‘Let’s do this! You have another chance at life. Why not do it? Here we go!’”

Six months after her accident, Deardoff began her search for graduate schools. After receiving impersonal and automated responses from other schools, an energetic recruiter and personalized outreach from Baker University led to her choose the School of Professional and Graduate Studies.

“[My Baker University recruiter] just seemed genuinely interested in me and genuinely interested in helping me further my education, and she made me think that I could do it,” Deardoff said.

About two weeks later, she enrolled.

Her Baker Legacy 

Deardoff graduated from Baker in May 2017 with a Master in Business Administration with a concentration in health care administration.

“I have always been interested in health care,” Deardoff said. “I think being on the receiving end of the health care world gives me a good perspective to go into health care administration. I’ve seen how those organizations change peoples’ lives, how they heal and help people, and that is what I want to do.”

Deardoff has had quite a journey in just a few short years. As she reflects on her accident and her recovery, she is thankful for the role that getting her master’s played in the process.