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340 receive degrees at HCC

May 22, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

Nettie Anderson-Simmons was already excited about graduating from Hagerstown Community College on Saturday when she heard her name called to accept the William Dale Clopper Memorial Award.

"I was so shocked. I was totally shocked. I couldn't believe they called my name," said Anderson-Simmons, 45, of Hagerstown.

Anderson-Simmons was one of about 340 people to graduate in the college's 52nd annual commencement held at the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

The Clopper Memorial award is given to a graduate "to recognize the virtue of human kindness and people who have gone beyond to be generous and help others," said Carl J. Galligan, dean of students.

Anderson-Simmons once took in a family that had lost its home to fire until they could find a new one.

She also adopted six children, two sets of siblings, five years ago. At the time she was a single mother.

That gives Anderson-Simmons nine children, including her three natural daughters.

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Her children are Daphne Hughes, 26; Angela Bonitto, 24; Marcina Anderson, 17; Dawnte Anderson, 12; Christopher Walton, 8; Travis Walton, 7; Nijia Anderson, 7; Serena Anderson, 6; and Charlotte Anderson, 5.

Anderson-Simmons is the next to youngest of 12 children and the first one to receive a college diploma, she said.

"I've always wanted to go to college," but first she sent her three natural daughters through college, she said.

Two years ago Anderson-Simmons quit her job at Review & Herald Publishing Association so she could pursue her associates degree in management and spend more time with her children.

Anderson-Simmons said adopting the six children was her way of responding to a need in the community.

"This was the best gift we could give to any family to keep them together," she said.

While she pursed her dream of a college degree, her husband of a few years, Michael G. Simmons, supported the family with his job driving a truck for the U.S. Postal Service in Gaithersburg, Md.

Rebecca Haugh also had a dream to educate her family.

On Saturday that dream came to fruition rather fatefully with Haugh following her two daughters across the stage so all three could accept their diplomas.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for all of us to be together here. It rarely happens," Haugh's daughter Angela said.

Angela Haugh, 24, of Boonsboro, began taking classes full time in 1992 and later switched to part time to earn her associates degree in business administration. Haugh said it will help her at D.M. Bowman Inc., where she is an accounting assistant.

Lauren Haugh, 19, of Hagerstown, began taking classes for her associates of science degree two years ago. She will attend the University of Maryland College Park in the fall to study pre-med.

Rebecca Haugh, 47, of Hagerstown, has been taking classes part time for the last five years to get her associates in general studies. The Mack Trucks Inc. supervisor plans to study for a bachelor's degree in business management at UMCP or Jesuit University, a Pennsylvania school that offers classes in West Virginia.

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