Monday, April 21, 2014

Rio Grad Profile: Becky Capps Reimagined

Becky Capps spent most of her professional life as an artist. She had a successful business and in 2000 was selected to collaborate in a nine-foot-long canvas installed at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She was doing well, until 2008, when everything changed.

“I still had one of my three children at home, was recently divorced and was alarmed at the rate my business phone had stopped ringing,” Capps said. “For several years I was very busy painting murals indoors and out, creating wall treatments and faux finishing. Then the recession hit and knocked my feet out from under me without much warning.”

Capps could have chosen an early retirement, but instead found work with the US Census bureau, painting part time and taking temp jobs when they were available.

“I have reimagined my life several times, and at 58 years of age, it was time to do it again,” Capps said.

Like many, Capps relied on her faith to help her though the rough times of the recession.

“I was praying, asking God for direction, when I literally bumped into a Rio Salado sign at Paradise Valley mall,” Capps said. “Immediately, I began thinking about what a new career would like if I had a degree.”

Capps decided to visit the Rio Salado College and Maricopa County Community College District websites where she found career counseling resources and took a couple of interest assessments. With a goal of eventually working in hospice, Capps enrolled in classes.

“From the first class I took, I was hooked on online learning,” Capps said. “I learned early on to think critically and discovered how to apply deep learning to my studies. I enjoyed doing my lessons on my own time and my instructors were amazingly helpful. Some of the instructors have impacted my life in ways they will never know. Their words of encouragement spurred me on right when I needed it most.”

Capps excelled in her classes and became highly involved in the student community.

“I saw straight A’s for the first time in my life and it became a challenge to keep them. Being on the President’s Honor Roll every semester has been such a reward along with being a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society,” Capps said. “Who would have known a right brained artist could make the adjustment of left brain learning?”

Halfway through her program, Capps discovered her true passion and changed her major to Family Life Education.

“I may still do hospice work on the side,” Capps said, “but I have formed my own organization called Pathways in Aging where I facilitate five different workshops that help adults in their retirement years.”

“The recession brought my full time mural painting business to a close,“ Capps said, “but instead of crumbling, I allowed my life story to continue, adding chapters that will surprise me with new beginnings.”

Capps will receive her AAS in Family Life Education with an emphasis on Adult Development and Aging in May 2014 and plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in human services online at Ottawa University.

“Ottawa offers a fantastic scholarship for Rio students who have graduated with an associate degree,” Capps said. “And they accepted more of my transfer credits than the other universities I considered.”

“Retirement does not look like it will happen for me for a very long time,” Capps said. “And my 60s will be anything but boring.”

This story can also be found in the April 19, 2014 edition of the Tempe Republic. Contributed by Patricia Moore on behalf of Rio Salado College.