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By Ethel Edwards

HCC alum Ethel Edwards with student HCC alum Rosa Lyons at work

After the announcement came of the sewing plant closing, we saw a chance to return to school to get our GED. It was a chance for us to finish school since dropping out at an early age. We started coming to Halifax Community College (HCC) in December 1999, working to achieve our GED. We completed all requirements and finished the GED program in March 2000.

With assistance from the employees of the GED department (Dr. Joy Cooley, Ms. Ada Harris, Ms. Mary Hutchinson, and Ms. Catherine Moody) we were able to complete the GED program and start college. These ladies worked us hard, telling us each day how well we were doing, giving us the encouragement we needed to reach our goal. In March 2000 these same ladies, along with our workforce advisor Ms. Laura Daniels, encouraged us to continue our education and achieve our two-year degree.

Through the guidance from Ms. Laura Daniels, and Ms. Ann Boyd Smith, our advisor of the Medical Office Administration Program, we began our college career in the summer of 2000. All of our instructors played a very special part in us finishing our program of study. We completed our program and reached another hurdle in our lives. In May 2003 we both marched in the last outside graduation commencement ceremony of HCC. In 2003, we both went back into the employment arena, but for the first time in years, we were employed by different employers.

I started working for HCC as a work-study student in 2001, under the leadership of Beth Gray-Robertson in the Learning Assistance Center (LAC). After completing my program in 2003, I began to work in the LAC part-time under the direction of Betty Brown and it's where I am currently employed. I love working in the LAC, helping others with computer related assignments, and giving back a small part of what has been given to me. I also enjoy working with the excellent team of people at HCC. At last, I believe I have found my place in the employment world. In May 2007, I look forward to receiving my BS degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix – Online, after which I would like to continue to work at HCC helping others to achieve.

Rosa was employed with the Medical Clinic of Enfield in 2003 during her co-op course. She is head of the billing and insurance department for the company that currently has three offices in the surrounding counties. Rosa said, "The excellent training I received at HCC in the Medical Office Administration program has not only helped me, but it has helped me to help other students. Through the co-op training program we have trained and employed other HCC students. Laura Daniels was right! The sewing plant closing gave me a chance to achieve the best career of my life."