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Deployment and a Death Put Brittany Adjei on Her Academic Path

Mary Dempsey
By Mary Dempsey
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Brittany Adjei

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of profiles of Spring 2024 graduates.

For Brittany Adjei, earning a college degree from University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) was about two things: taking advantage of an opportunity and proving her strength and resilience.

When Adjei, a member of the Georgia Army National Guard, stepped onto the stage at UMGC’s 2024 Grad Walk, she proved that she can stick to a goal—even through a military deployment in Afghanistan, even through the death of her child’s father, even through a relocation. She believes her Bachelor of Science in Business Management also busts what she sees as myths about young mothers and women who raise children alone.  

“I deployed in 2018… and while on deployment, I wanted to use my free time wisely,” she said. “I’m a single mom. I’m a young mom. I always knew that I wanted a degree, the degree is the ultimate goal, but I had a lot of pauses along the way.”

Adjei’s educational record reveals a young woman with changing interests and an ongoing curiosity about the world. Her course transcripts, for example, detail multiple chemistry classes from the period when she wanted to be a dental hygienist. And there are the social science courses from the stretch when she considered social work. Adjei learned about UMGC through her first sergeant “because that’s where he got his degree,” and it was there she decided that a business degree best matched her aspirations.  

Adjei works as a recruiter for the National Guard in DeKalb County, Georgia, and said she has picked up skills at UMGC that help her in that position. Long-term, however, she wants to tap her entrepreneurial spirit and pursue a career in real estate.

Knowing her family was not equipped to pay for college, Adjei joined ROTC as a junior in high school .

“I had my son right after I graduated my senior year. My son’s father was already in the National Guard, and he told me to finish it out because I had already started ROTC. He said we should sacrifice now so we could be where we wanted to be.” So, she joined the National Guard in 2012.

“I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it as a young mom,” she added. “I’ve never wanted to be part of a negative statistic. I want to contribute in a positive way, as a woman, as an African American.”

After starting her full-time service with the National Guard, Adjei began taking classes at Georgia State University. That coursework was interrupted when she was deployed to Afghanistan. At the time, her son’s father was in Bahrain, so family members watched their child.

“My son’s father suddenly passed away due to cardiac arrest, so I had to come back home to Georgia. I was set to come home in two to three months, but I came home before my son’s last day of school. He was 6 years old.”

Married for five years, the couple had just divorced five months earlier, although they remained close friends. “We talked every day,” Adjei said. “We texted that morning but by the time I called him, there was no answer.”

She said the death of her former husband motivated her to push forward.

“My new focus was to make sure my little one was OK. I put him into therapy. I came home and within two months, I bought my first house, went back to work and went back to school,” she said. “I always wanted to show my son how to be resilient. He’s 11 now, turning 12, and I am very proud of how Mason has carried forward with himself.

“Not a lot of children his age have gone though the kind of loss he has,” she said.

Mason will attend Grad Walk but Adjei laughed when she explained why: “He didn’t have a choice.” She said he’s at the age where “he doesn’t want to hang out with me.”

Adjei said she has proven to Mason—and others—that she’s a committed parent and employee. And against the backdrop of those responsibilities “I was still able to finish out my school strong.”

She said she knew from the time she was in middle school that she wanted to go to college.

Her UMGC experience was a good one.

“UMGC for me, with the lifestyle I have as a single mom and working as a recruiter … gave me the opportunity to reach my goal without sacrificing,” she said. “Education for me is power. It is about making my grandmother proud. It’s about resiliency.”