Graduate Profile

by Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney ’10

Photo of Sheila Johnson-Glover at CommencementWhen two-time McKendree graduate Sheila Johnson-Glover ’12, MBA ’16 enrolled in the undergraduate business administration program seven years ago, she didn’t foresee being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer her first semester. “I didn’t think I would live long enough to finish my bachelor’s degree, let alone my master’s, and now I’ve done both,” she says. “I was so excited and my heart was so full to graduate with my MBA this year.”

Sheila had just moved to southwestern Illinois and was serving active duty in the Air Force when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009. It had always been her life goal to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and one day start her own business. After learning of the cancer, she found that school was one thing she could do for herself, something that gave her hope and was about more than just surviving. “I think being diagnosed made me more driven to get my degrees,” she said. “I decided then that i would not let cancer take this one dream away from me.”

With encouragement from her daughter and the support of her professors, Sheila pushed through a mastectomy and weekly chemotherapy treatments lasting nearly a year, all while bringing homework with her to the hospital. She missed a test for class due to one of her surgeries and remembers calling her instructor to tell her she couldn’t move her arms. Given the opportunity to make it up once she recovered, Sheila knew if she was meant to get through college and overcome cancer at the same time, she had come to the right place. “I think God sent me to McKendree for a reason because he knew I would need understanding instructors, and he knew my desire not to quit. I met so many amazing people in my classes who helped me along the way, and I feel that continuing my education also helped me get through cancer.”

At graduation this year, Sheila accomplished her lifelong dream of earning her MBA amid tears of happiness and disbelief. She still plans to start her own business, but now she has a better idea of what it will be. “I plan to open a bed and breakfast where cancer patients can come after treatment and stay for a couple of days. They won’t have to worry about food or transportation. All they’ll have to focus on is getting better. I figure if I can get my master’s, I can surely pursue this new dream.”