TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Graduation marks the end of a chapter that took years to write.
It’s the proof that hard work pays off, and for grad Nicole Werner, the term hard work has a whole different meaning.
"There was a point and time when I was working three jobs.” said Werner.
The mother of four found herself at Pima while her marriage was ending and her youngest child was heading into kindergarten. She battled anxiety and depression—and feeling that as a parent, she wasn’t making the right choice.
In a press release from Pima Community College, Werner said:
“I felt it was time for me to start school. I was feeling unsure about who I was and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. My thought was that if I just continued to take small steps forward I’d get it all figured out.” She kept taking those steps at Pima, managing anxiety and depression, as well as other issues related to her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even as she worked three jobs. On top of that, she took responsibility for her ex-husband’s medical care after a car accident, traveled home to Philadelphia to be with her dying mother as she was taken off life support, and experienced the death of two of her grandparents. Werner is experienced in perseverance, having been on her own since she was 16 and attending at least eight high schools in Philadelphia and northern Arizona. Now, she said her children are her top motivators, and her new husband provides her unconditional love and support. She also praises “some amazing teachers and an advisor” at Pima, in particular, writing instructor Pete Figler and advisor Michelle Savage. Werner begins her Psychology major at University of Arizona this fall.
"At times I had to slow it down and just take one class but I thought as long as I'm moving forward then I'm not giving up.” said Werner.
Moving forward also led teacher Varrie Edwards back into a cap and gown on Thursday night.
Edwards is an instructor in the Office and Legal Department (CTD Business &Technology Prog)
This is now her fourth degree, which will focus on medical coding. She is graduating with a degree in Health Information Technology, Associate of Applied Science.
And although her path had a few unexpected turns, she kept moving on. "I had a very serious illness that almost killed me so I said I have got to finish this degree.” describes Edwards. Varrie and Nicole are proving there’s no age limit on an education.
“Your grandmother can do this, your great-grandmother can do this, so hopefully there a lot younger people out there say well if she can do it, I can do it.” said Edwards.
According to Pima Community College, a total of 3,818 students have graduated or are candidates for graduation at the May ceremony.
There were 1,998 female candidates and 1,641 male candidates. (Some students do not indicate a gender on their graduation application.) The College expects to award 5,502 degrees and certificates to these students. Many Pima students earn more than one certificate and/or degree. A total of 161 graduation candidates, or 6.75 percent of the 2,386 associate degree candidates, have a grade point average 3.90 or greater and meet the requirements for graduation with highest honors.