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FAU Fall Commencement Profile:
Lisa Barnum, B.A. in General Management

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Lisa Barnum (far right) celebrates accomplishments with fellow graduates

You would think a mother of two, who has been married for 20 years and owns her own business, would be too busy to pursue an undergraduate degree. Not Lisa Barnum. Uniquely, that is not the amazing part of her story.

After starting classes at Florida Atlantic in the spring of 2002, Barnum was told by her doctor in December to quit school, because she wouldn't make it to graduation. The 39-year old had a tracheotomy (a tube inserted in the trachea to facilitate breathing) in 1997. She was undergoing a tonsillectomy for sleep apnea and severe sinus and allergy symptoms, but due to complications in surgery, a tracheotomy was performed.

The Vero Beach resident decided to start her own business a year later, working with companies who needed bookkeeping, resumes and maintaining databases. That year she decided to go after a business degree to help better run her business.

After obtaining an associate's degree from Indian River Community College in 2000, Barnum took some time away from school to focus on the many other areas of her life. She came back to school at FAU's Treasure Coast Campus in 2002.

That's when Barnum got the bad news from her doctor. "Last December, my doctor told me to quit school and get my affairs together, because I wasn't going to make it to my next birthday," said Barnum. "My birthday was in March and now I am graduating."

As if her normal workweek wasn't enough, Barnum had to take a class late at night at the Boca Raton campus during the summer and stayed in a hotel on Monday and Wednesday nights.

Barnum says that much of the credit goes to the faculty at FAU for getting her through the tough coursework. "FAU has excellent instructors. Without their help, I wouldn't have been able to make it."

Barnum says she is feeling better and now accepts things as they come. "I take life one day at a time, hour-by-hour, sometimes minute-by-minute."