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Graduate's story one of inspiration during HCC adult education commencement

May 13, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Brandy Manspeaker hugs Hagerstown Community College Board of Trustees chairperson, Carolyn Brooks, Sunday upon receiving her General Education Development degree Sunday at Adult Education commencement.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Brandy Manspeaker dropped out of Waynesboro Area Senior High School when she was 17 years old and took a full-time job with a printing company.

Manspeaker often thought about going back and getting a general equivalency diploma, but said she was "a little afraid of failing."

Then one day, Manspeaker was reading an ad about free general equivalency degree classes being offered at Hagerstown Community College and she decided to give it a try.

Based on some assessments, Manspeaker said school officials told her that she could probably take the test for a GED without taking classes.

She took the test and passed.

Now, Manspeaker is studying radiography at HCC, is making good grades and hopes to become an X-ray technician.

On Sunday, Manspeaker's story was one of inspiration for other GED and external diploma graduates at HCC during the school's annual adult education commencement.

Manspeaker, the guest speaker for the 2:30 p.m. ceremony at the school's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, talked about the mistake she made in dropping out of high school.

"But that doesn't mean we can't learn from our mistakes," said Manspeaker, who received her GED in Sunday's ceremony.

Washington County's GED program used to be offered by the public school system, but HCC has been administering the program for about nine years, school officials said.

Thinking Manspeaker's story would be good for the ceremony, Dawn Schoenenberger, HCC's director of developmental education and adult literacy, set about making Manspeaker the featured speaker for the ceremonies, although Schoenenberger was told that Manspeaker probably would not do it.

Schoenenberger said she bribed Manspeaker a little, offering Manspeaker an Olive Garden gift certificate if she did it.

Schoenenberger said she was impressed by Manspeaker's confidence on the stage.

"If she was nervous, she was the only one showing it," Schoenenberger said.

Although GED classes are free at HCC, the external diploma program carries a $200 fee because of the cost of running the one-on-one program, Schoenenberger said.

There are about 95 graduates in this year's program, and 34 decided to take part in Sunday's ceremony, Schoenenberger said.

HCC President Guy Altieri spoke during the ceremony, emphasizing that it is never too late to receive an education. Altieri told graduates that their degree is something that can never be taken away from them. An education never depreciates and instead "appreciates in so many ways" and often leads to more education, he said.

Outside the ARCC after the ceremony, students told stories about their educational success.

Christina Householder of Hagerstown said she dropped out of high school when she was 17 years old and pregnant with her first child.

Householder said she wouldn't be able to be promoted in her job at the Washington County Human Development Council without a GED, so she headed to HCC for an education.

"Now, I'm going to college. I love it," said Householder, who is studying to become a medical assistant.

Richard Thompson of Hagerstown said he had tried to get his GED before, but could never do it.

Then, he went to HCC and things clicked.

"The teacher was great. The best teacher ever," said Thompson, who graduated in the external diploma program.

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