May 16 2013
This article was published on May 16 2013 and was archived on May 17 2014. The information below may be outdated or inaccurate.
In a sea of matching black caps and gowns, New River Community graduates can look a lot alike. But if you were to stop and ask a graduate to tell you how they made it to that special day, you'd find out very quickly that each has his or her own very unique story to tell. For these six NRCC graduates, their paths to graduation were filled with hard work, long days and other obstacles. But each one crossed the stage on May 15 and added a happy ending to their story.
Kimberlie Honaker - setting an example
Three different jobs lost to the bad economy. Four children at home to think about. By 2011, Kimberlie Honaker's self-esteem had hit a serious low point. "I knew I had to do something," Honaker says. "I wanted to set a better example for my kids."
Honaker completed NRCC's nurse aid certificate program in 2007 and went on to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. "I loved that line of work," she said. So much so, that she considered returning to study practical nursing with the eventual goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. But, a back injury changed her plans. "After I hurt my back, it was very hard to stay on my feet for long periods of time," she says. "So I just couldn't spend as much time with the patients as I wanted to."
That's when Honaker decided it was time to do something that she'd put off since graduating from Pulaski County High School - get a college degree.
Despite her injury, Honaker wanted to find a way to remain in the healthcare field. In 2011, she entered NRCC's administrative support technology program through the Healthcare Information Technology Education (HITE) initiative. This month, she graduated with her associate degree in administrative support technology with a specialization in medical administrative support.
During the course of her studies, Honaker also participated in NRCC's Advanced Learners Program (ALP), taking an information technology course in computer applications. "It was very challenging," she says. "But I got a great feeling of satisfaction out of holding myself to that higher standard."
Honaker distinguished herself both in and out of the classroom during her time at NRCC. She was recognized at the President's Awards ceremony as the 2013 Outstanding Student in medical administrative support specialization and was named to Who's Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges. She is also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and received the Kollmorgen Scholarship from the NRCC Educational Foundation. Additionally, she was a member of a delegation of NRCC students who visited state legislators in Richmond earlier this year as part of Virginia's "Every Day is Community College Day" program.
Throughout her efforts to achieve her goal of receiving a college degree, Honaker says that the people at NRCC are what really stood out. "Everyone was so helpful," she says. "The instructors go above and beyond to help you."Her goal of setting a better example for her children (ages six, seven, 10 and 13) has been reflected in an improvement in her two of her children's grades. "It turned into a little friendly competition," she says with a laugh. "We compared 'report cards!'"
Honaker is quick to point out that none of her achievements would be possible without her husband, Jacob Price, and her mother and father-in-law Marty and Tootie Price. "They were all so supportive," she says. "I'm the luckiest girl in the world!"
Asked about her future, she says she'd like to work in a pediatrician's office or another area that lets her work with children. She's also considering pursuing a bachelor's degree.
As she reflects on her graduation, she notes that her excitement is mixed with some sadness. "I'm excited to start a new career," she says. "But I'm really going to miss NRCC - it changed my life."
Deborah Hamilton and Amanda Lovern - overcoming obstacles together
Graduation is a family affair. But in Deborah Hamilton's case, her family wasn't just