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“I don’t just feel like a student at Harford, I feel like family. Excelling at the college level is difficult no matter how smart you are or how hard you work; it’s hard! Harford goes above and beyond to give you the best opportunity to be the best possible version of yourself."
“Harford Community College is a top notch institution where, if you’re willing to work hard, you can literally become anything you want in this world. There’s no secret to success; there is a little luck involved, a little bit of knowing some of the right people, but 97% of your future is determined by how hard you’re willing to work. If you enroll at HCC and give it your all, you will be given the tools and opportunity to make your dreams a reality.”
Steven Rawlings first enrolled at Harford Community College in 2012 after graduating from Joppatowne High School. He was unmotivated, unsure of what he wanted to do – and ended up dropping out. After drifting from one menial job to another for the next four years, he had a wake-up call and knew that it was time to get serious about his future. He realized that the life he wanted would not simply be handed to him; he had to work for it. He re-enrolled at HCC in 2016 and started on the road toward building the life he had dreamed of.
HCC’s vast selection of online courses has afforded Steven, a working adult with a multitude of responsibilities, the opportunity to pursue a degree. “Due to my work schedule, the needs of my mother, and other obligations, I have largely been an online student. I have been able to earn the majority of my college credits totally online, which quite honestly has made college possible for me up to this point.” Steven works 25 hours a week while attending college and caring for his disabled mother, who was recently diagnosed with ALS, a terminal and incurable motor neuron disease. In addition, he volunteers in the community four days a week teaching children martial arts; classes include self-defense and focus on anti-bullying measures and conflict resolution. “I wake up before 7 a.m. and often don’t get to bed until after midnight, six days a week. If I’m not working, I’m studying, and if I’m not studying then I’m teaching, training myself, or taking care of my mother. I live a busy and full life, but I would not change it for anything.”
Once Steven realized that going back to school was the key to changing his life, he gave it his all. “After re-enrolling in 2016, I took off like a rocket, earning A after A, and raising my G.P.A. from a near 2.0 to a 3.5 currently.” He also has been named to the prestigious Deans List and President’s List multiple times. Steven credits the excellent advising he receives from Student Development Specialist Dena Gottschalk as one of the reasons for the success he is now experiencing as a student. She has gone above and beyond to keep him on track and ensure his success and is a friendly face whenever he needs help. Faculty have also been paramount in helping him reach his academic goals. Finally, he believes the discipline and values he learned in martial arts contribute to his achievements in the classroom.
“I go to school and pursue success so fervently not just for myself, but for my family also. My mother has sacrificed so much for me to be where I am today; I want to succeed so I can make her proud and be able to give back to others in the way she has given so much to me. I told her that HCC is just the start; I will earn my bachelor’s, earn my law degree, and be the pivotal changing factor in my family’s legacy.”
There was a point in his life where Steven felt he would be doing menial labor for the rest of his days, but says, “HCC gave me the avenue to realize my potential and make something more of myself.” Returning to college helped Steven move from a job he hated in an non air-conditioned warehouse, where he was viewed as just another number, to a position as an accounting assistant at a small financial services firm. “I cannot thank HCC enough for giving me the opportunity to get not only an affordable but a quality education. My grades, academic achievements and success at and because of HCC impressed my current employers a great deal. I now make considerably more money doing work I enjoy for a company that I feel values me.”
Steven is amazed at how much Harford cares, how much they do for their student body, and how friendly and helpful everyone is. “I don’t just feel like a student at Harford, I feel like family. Excelling at the college level is difficult no matter how smart you are or how hard you work; it’s hard! Harford goes above and beyond to give you the best opportunity to be the best possible version of yourself.”
Steven offers this advice: “To adults considering a return to school, consider the following statement – one that really impacted me personally. Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday. Don’t squander today by being upset with what transpired yesterday, and more importantly, don’t let the concern of what tomorrow may bring stop you from making the most of today. Education is something that no one can take from you. Don’t put off earning your degree and getting an education even one more day. We are all given the same twenty-four hours each day; make the most of yours starting right now! Harford Community College Is an affordable option for earning your degree that will quite literally springboard you toward future success. I promise you that the staff at HCC will go above and beyond to make your educational goals and dreams a reality. Make that call or send that email to get more information, set up a meeting with Advising, take that first step. Education is your ticket to future success, and here at Harford, you can become anything you want.”
“To my fellow students, I’d like to say that it all starts with you. Harford will give you the tools and the opportunity, but ultimately, we are all in charge of our own destiny. We live in turbulent and divisive times. I want everyone to know that it doesn’t matter the color of your skin, the religion you practice, the neighborhood you live in, or the amount of money in your bank account. We are all capable of great things; we all have the capability to make amazing contributions to our fellow man, woman, and society at large. If you come to HCC ready to work hard, you can do anything in this life that you desire. Your limits are only what you set for yourself. Make use of all the wonderful tools Harford has to offer, and let’s get busy with changing the world for the better.”
Steven is working toward dual associate degrees in political science and psychology and plans to graduate in May 2019. His goal is to transfer to the University of Baltimore to complete his undergraduate degree and then attend law school.
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