"No one is prepared for the challenges you face as you go through life," she said, noting that while she was attending HBC, one daughter had graduated from college and another had given birth to Twigger's first grandchild - eight weeks early, and on the first day of classes one semester.
At one point, Twigger had thought about quitting, she confessed. But "going back to school was the first time I had actually done something for myself in my adult life," she said, and quitting would have disappointed too many people.
"I stand here to tell you, don't give up," she said.
Carmen Maggi of Woodsboro, Md., reminded the group that graduating from HBC was just a start.
"You are to be congratulated on a very special occasion in your life, but this is not your last ... you have proven you can do it," she said.
Maggi, who earned both an associate degree as a medical secretary/assistant and a certificate as a phlebotomist, told her classmates that "there's no excuse for failure - you only fail when you quit."
Dana Schiano-Di-Cola of Hagerstown already has put her education to use. The 41-year-old single mother of four graduated cum laude with an associate degree in criminal justice. The former waitress has a new job as a life skills counselor with Cornell-Abraxas Youth Center in South Mountain, Pa.
She plans to continue her education, finishing her bachelor's degree in Hagerstown. Her goal, she said, is to earn a graduate degree.
Di-Cola said she was drawn to juvenile justice because, as the mother of teenagers, she had seen how the juvenile justice system worked.
"I thought I could I could help make a difference," she said. "I saw how well my kids turned out" with the proper support, she said.
Di-Cola decided to go back to school because, after working at various area restaurants, "I decided enough was enough." She also wanted to encourage her children - now ages 16 to 22 - to go on to college.
But juggling everything wasn't easy - there was lots of family support from her parents, children and her boyfriend of seven years, she said.
And lots of takeout dinners.
Now, HBC President W. Christopher Motz reminded the graduates, it's payback time.
"Take what we've given you and use it to go out there and serve other people," he admonished the class. "Remember, it's not about you."