Joy George

“Although it took me four years to earn my degree, the fact that I did it feels like my success story. When I first embarked on this educational journey, I had no idea that I would work toward and receive a degree, but it was something I always wanted.”

Joy lost her job of 30 years as a bookkeeper and human resources manager in 2011. She started taking continuing education classes at Harford Community College, which she said, “caused the college education bug to bite.” She was accepted for a Pell grant, met with an advisor, and decided that online credit courses would work best in her busy schedule.

“When I first started my online classes, I enrolled in a business course just to see if I could manage college. Assistant Professor Ryker Hughes gave me the inspiration and encouragement to continue. His kind words made me want to pursue a degree and not just take some classes. I also found a great deal of support from Associate Professor Meredith Puller. She encouraged me as well to pursue a degree, and truly inspired me to do so.” She also had the support of her husband, family and friends, who “constantly advised me that I could do it.”

After taking a few courses and earning a 4.0 GPA, she “decided to dive in head first.” Joy not only wanted to obtain a degree, but also to excel in her coursework. “If I was going to complete the requirements for a degree, I was not going to settle for anything less from myself.” She added, “What surprised me the most was that I was able to do all the work; the course loads, while extensive and challenging, were also attainable.” She was named to the prestigious President’s List each semester.

“Things had really developed and changed since I had last attended school, to say the least! It was truly a challenge, but in many ways working on my homework and assignments was like my ‘chocolate.’ I looked forward to learning new things and was excited to have the opportunity to discuss my ideas through the online forums and course assignments with classmates and my instructors.”

It wasn’t always easy. Joy encountered what she called many “bumps and potholes” along the way. While taking classes, she was caring for her elderly parents, who had serious health issues, providing care for three of her young grandchildren, and volunteering at her church and her grandchildren’s preschool.

With her family obligations, online learning was the perfect fit. Joy came to campus from time to time to take exams or meet with an advisor. When she visited, she found the campus easy to navigate and found everyone was helpful and supportive. Joy said the Test Center staff were most kind and put her at ease prior to taking an exam. Her advisors were always offering her encouragement, and she was impressed with the quality of teaching.

Joy was encouraged to apply for scholarships and was surprised to be awarded four scholarships from the American Association of University Women, the Chesapeake Professional Women, and a book scholarship from Delta Kappa Gamma.

Joy highly recommends HCC to anyone looking for an exceptional college experience. “Not only are the courses great, but the instructors are fantastic,” she said. “My entire experience was great and life changing for me.” She stated, “I felt totally comfortable being on campus, and as an older student, I was treated with the utmost respect and kindness.”

Her advice to other students: “The most important thing I learned was to meet all deadlines. In fact, I found it better to have my work completed a few weeks ahead of schedule, if permitted. You cannot do well if you are rushed or do not understand an assignment and must wait for a response to a question, especially if your only contact is via email. The instructors are most willing to help, but you must ask the questions. You must also be your own disciplinarian and be well organized in order to work on your own; no one is going to remind you to do your assignments.”

Although it took some juggling at times, she never gave up on her dream. “I wanted to earn a degree and have that 4.0 GPA. It’s something that I’m proud of, and I know that I did it on my own.” Joy earned an associate degree in General Studies with a concentration in sociology. She plans to participate in the College’s commencement ceremony this May, and we will all be joining her family and friends, cheering her on.