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A very special family affair took place this year at Harford Community College’s Commencement ceremony. Christine Caudill, daughter Elissa Hanson, and son Colt Wilmouth all graduated from the College on the same day. Christine lost her husband eight years ago and also had been dealing with the devastating health effects of Lyme disease, but decided the time was right to complete her degree. On May 21, all three members of the family participated in the Commencement ceremony, leading the processional of graduates. Christine earned an AA in English and an AA in history/public history, Elissa received an AA in general studies with an art concentration; and Colt earned an AA in business management/entrepreneurship.
On the day she took her daughter to visit HCC, Christine had not planned on going back to school herself. An advisor happened to ask her what she was doing, and when he learned about her passion for history, he convinced Christine that she, too, could be successful in college. She learned that with the help of the Pell Grant, both she and her daughter could attend college at very little cost. (Elissa had previously been accepted to Penn State, but they could not afford to send her there.) The first year was not easy, but with the support of her children, and the encouragement of her instructors, she was able to overcome the obstacles in her way.
Christine is very glad that she made the decision to attend Harford, and she highly recommends it to others who are considering going to college. For her, the biggest benefit in getting her education so close to home was that she could still manage her home and other responsibilities without having to make any sacrifices. Meeting new people and making wonderful friendships with people from many age groups was an unexpected bonus for her. “I was happily surprised that I felt like I fit in so well,” she said. Even though she was older than most of the students in her classes, everyone treated her as if she were their age.
According to Christine, the best thing about Harford is the faculty. “I was amazed at the caliber of teacher at HCC. They are all incredibly well-educated and smart, and best of all, most of them were very encouraging of me, even in my ‘unique’ abilities.” She said her professors loved to teach and wanted to see her learn and grow. With their encouragement, she has reconsidered her dream of writing. She even took second place in the fall 2014 student writing contest. Through the public history program, she has had the opportunity to gain experience in the public history world. She obtained an internship with the Historical Society of Harford County, worked on the Harford Voices website, and much more.
With the encouragement of Dr. James Karmel, Professor of History, she has decided to continue her education in the near future and hopes to one day earn a master’s degree. Christine said, “Now that I am back on track with learning, hopefully I will be able to continue studies in one form or another for years to come.” She feels there are many opportunities to explore including oral histories, memoirs, and exhibitions. Christine wants to focus on public history where she hopes she can combine her passion for writing and history.
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