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Harrison College celebrates graduates’ success

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Just a few months ago, a single mom was living with her parents in Brownstown and working at Subway — and didn’t feel professional satisfaction.

But today Renae Johnson will be celebrating a decision that changed her life. She will graduate from Harrison College with an associate of applied science degree to be a medical administrative assistant, and she’s already secured a job in a dermatology office.

Johnson is among 20 students being recognized for earning a degree from Harrison College in a personalized, intimate ceremony today at YES Cinema.

Although the number of graduates is down slightly compared to previous years, Manager of Student Services Aimee Aufdermauer said there’s a lot to celebrate in the Class of 2014.

“It’s just a big old menagerie of people finishing,” she said.

Leanna Myers is the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in health care management.

When Myers found out she was pregnant at 20 years old, she realized she needed to figure out a career. So she enrolled in Harrison College.

“I know with my college career, I had so many obstacles,” she said. “I remember sitting in the counselors’ office and crying because I didn’t think I was going to finish. But I encourage others to use the resource team and don’t give up. Stick with it.”

She entered the health care field because she enjoys helping people. She has a permanent position in a medical office now, and she hopes to grow within the company.

Aufdermauer said a few others are receiving four-year degrees, too.

“These students really liked the school atmosphere and environment, and they wanted to continue,” Aufdermauer said.

The economy also demands it, with fields such as human resources and accounting requiring more than an associate degree.

About 75 percent of the graduates already have secured jobs, and the others have the resources in place to find one. Aufdermauer said the remaining students have either already enrolled in continuing education or just have not found the right position.

No matter what degree or field the students are graduating into, Aufdermauer said, they have one thing in common: They made the decision to change their lives.

That realization is evident at the ceremony, Aufdermauer said. There’s rarely a dry eye in the room.

“Look at your life now and what you’re doing,” she said. “If it’s not what you want to do, come to us.”

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