Ashley Harrison’s walk across the stage of the Seventh-day Adventist Worship and Convention Center on May 10 will mark the culmination of an eight-year academic journey that began – and a part of which will end – at Claflin University.
“I started off at Claflin in 2006 and transferred to the University of South Carolina, but it didn’t work out for me,” said Harrison, who also took some courses at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. “I just remembered the love and family environment at Claflin, and it made me want to come back.”
Harrison – an only child raised by her single mother, Carla Harrison, on Edisto Island, South Carolina – will become the first person in her family to graduate from college when the Center for Professional and Continuing Studies student receives a bachelor’s degree in organizational management on Saturday.
The 25-year-old certified nursing assistant has managed to juggle her life in North Charleston and full-time job as a patient care technician at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital with classes at Claflin’s Orangeburg campus and its satellite location at Fort Jackson in Columbia.
“It’s been challenging, because some nights I’ve stayed in a hotel just to go to school,” Harrison said of returning to Claflin in August 2012. “It’s been hard, but my professors have worked with me, and the staff at Claflin has been great.”
Claflin University’s Center for Professional and Continuing Studies program provides working adults and non-traditional students 22 years of age or older with the educational tools to be competitive in today’s economy and job market, to advance in the workplace and to turn long-held dreams into reality. Students in the program can work toward a bachelor’s degree in organizational management or criminal justice.
Beginning in the fall, both Professional and Continuing Studies degree programs – as well as a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Claflin – will be offered online, giving working adults yet another convenient way to continue their education. For more information, visit www.claflin.edu/cuonline.
This fall, Harrison will return to Trident Tech to pursue a registered nursing degree. Her career goal is to be a nurse practitioner in the U.S. Air Force.
Looking forward to graduation and what lies ahead, Harrison said, “I am feeling accomplished, determined – I’m feeling a breath of fresh air.”
“Working where I do in the hospital has helped me see what I wanted to do in life,” she continued. “So instead of becoming tired and overwhelmed from work and school, I would return to work with motivation. It gave me a vision of what I wanted in my future.”
In the audience Saturday at Claflin University’s 2014 Commencement Convocation will be Harrison’s mom. “She’s very proud,” Harrison said.
“For everything in life, there is a season,” she said. “With faith, dedication and determination, you can conquer the seasons of your life and reach your goals.”