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One HBC graduate walked across a stage twice in '05

October 23, 2005|By MARIE GILBERT

marieg@herald-mail.com

When Neerala Tiwary walked into a college classroom last year, she was understandably nervous. After all, she was a high school senior.

"It was exciting, but I also felt a lot of pressure," the 18-year old said.

But thanks to the support of her family and dedication to her studies, Tiwary accomplished something this year that few students her age can claim. She had two graduations.

In May, Tiwary graduated from Musselman High School in Inwood, W.Va. On Saturday, she received a second diploma from Hagerstown Business College, where she was enrolled in the medical assistant program.

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Tiwary was among 140 people who received degrees and certificates during graduation ceremonies in the auditorium at North Hagerstown High School.

Tiwary said she decided to attend Hagerstown Business College while still a high school student for several reasons.

"I want to go to medical school, so I wanted to get a jump-start on my college education," Tiwary said. "By going to HBC, I could take a certificate program, then work in the medical field, gaining experience and earning money to help me go to a four-year college."

Tiwary hopes to enroll next year at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she will major in biology, then go on to medical school.

"Being a doctor is something I've always wanted to do," Tiwary said prior to graduation ceremonies. "It was my grandmother who encouraged the idea. When I was in the fifth grade, she told me we needed a doctor in the family and she thought it would be a great career choice for me. She told me I had a lot of potential."

Unfortunately, Tiwary's grandmother was unable to attend her graduation.

"She's in Trinidad, but I know she would have loved to have been here," she said.

Also graduating Saturday from Hagerstown Business College was Michele Burger, 39, of Clear Spring and her son, Trenton Almeda, 20, also of Clear Spring.

"She pushed me to go to school," Almeda said of his mother. "So I found HBC, liked it and before long, she wanted to go back to school, too."

Mother and son attended college at the same time, even sharing one class.

"It was a little weird," Almeda said. "But it was also really cool. Now, we're graduating together - and that's something really special."

Almeda said he wasn't scheduled to graduate until next quarter, but increased his classes in order to graduate with his mother.

At Hagerstown Business College, Almeda studied graphic design, while Burger studied health information technology.

"Returning to school was a little scary," Burger said. "But I'm the kind of person who likes challenges. I had always thought about going to college, but not seriously. When my son enrolled here, I liked what I saw and decided to give it a go."

Burger said she has enjoyed returning to school so much that she is thinking of going for her bachelor's degree.

"I've been inspired by my son," Burger said. "It was a lot of hard work, juggling studies, a job at MCI, plus home life. But I did it, and today is a very proud day for both of us."

Diplomas were presented by HBC President W. Christopher Motz. Student speakers were 2005 graduates Holly Frazer, business administration graduate, and Sharron Becker, graphic design graduate.

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