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Jennifer Presbury-Darby, dual major student, Vice President of HCC’s Student Government Association, mom of five, and aspiring political leader, is one busy woman. A Harford County native and 2003 graduate of Joppatowne High School, Jennifer came to Harford to take a final course needed to complete her online degree. As she began to explore her options, however, she subsequently switched gears and her major, forging a new path at HCC.
Starting out with Paralegal Studies, she grew more interested in the legislative than the interpretive side of the law. By adding Political Science to Paralegal Studies, she effectively changed her status to “dual major” and is on track to graduate in May 2020 with her Political Science degree and in fall 2020 with Paralegal Studies.
When speaking of her experience at Harford, Jennifer says, “It was eye opening, life sculpting, and stimulating. I missed a lot of the social aspects of college with online studies. I was now able to practice my communication and networking skills during class and at work. I was encouraged to learn and use my strengths to improve myself and build confidence in my decision making. The support that Harford provides to students made me sure of myself, my values, and my future success. I have no anticipation of failure.”
Along the way, Jennifer was grateful for the support of both the staff of the Office of Student Life and, of course, her family. Says Jennifer, “All the inspirational women of the Office of Student Life were my support system my whole time here at HCC. Caitlin White encouraged me to use my leadership skills and to go outside of my comfort zone, restoring my confidence in my abilities. Ms. Love’s passion for African American culture and history helped me grow a greater sense of pride for my African American roots. Dr. G, Laura, and Jo also influenced me to be my best in all I do.”
Jennifer’s children, ranging in ages from 3 to 17, were her biggest source of motivational support. Iyana, Jennifer’s eldest, gives her mother the biggest hand in keeping her home in order as well as tending to her siblings. Jennifer’s brothers, Michael and Calvin, were invaluable as well for coordinating schedules to ensure she was able to continue her education and for their families to stay close.
Besides currently serving as SGA Vice President 2019-2020, Jennifer has also been a student worker in the Office of Student Life throughout her time at HCC. She made the Spring 2018 Dean's List, participated in the College’s Alternative Break Spring Break in Louisiana in 2019, and was a member of Emerging Leaders 2019. She also took part in this year’s Student Advocacy Day in Annapolis. Jennifer found the session to be both educational and inspirational. Considering her interest in politics, being in the midst of important figures in the legislative process further piqued her interest in this field. But more importantly the current bills related to community college education really hit home for Jennifer being the mother of five children, one who will very soon begin her college career.
With regard to her active involvement in student life as well as her academic successes, Jennifer was pleasantly surprised to discover all HCC had to offer. “Since most of my college education was from online instruction when I came to HCC, I didn’t know what to expect. I gained most of my knowledge of HCC through my orientation leader position on campus and was surprised by all the resources they provide to us as students. I thought I was going to go to class, stay to myself and ride out my time here in solitude. I sure was proven wrong! I met so many new friends, reconnected with old ones, popped my bubble and engaged in so many ways,” says Jennifer. In addition to her position as an orientation leader, Jennifer also recently became a peer leader.
She would definitely recommend Harford to others as a great way to begin or continue the pursuit of a college degree. “Harford provides quality education and opportunities for its students to grow on so many levels and transition into the workforce with a solid support system.”
Jennifer hopes to pursue a career in politics. The judicial branch was the first she considered but as she learned more about each branch, she ultimately decided to lean more toward the legislative branch. “I’d like to be an influential leader on a political platform to directly impact the disparities in the U.S. that people of color face on a higher magnitude than other American citizens.” She believes public education, crime prevention and criminal justice reforms are the areas that need particular attention. “Focusing on providing children of low income communities with adequate education and positive alternatives for recreation will give them other options to pursue or explore when faced with decisive challenges afflicted by their environment.” Jennifer feels it is vital to address these issues to ensure that the future generations of people of color have an opportunity to see themselves as abled adults without hindrance of the law.
As so perfectly stated by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Jennifer intends to do just that!
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