Monday, May 2, 2016

Vol State Graduate Stories - Part Two

There are hundreds of Vol State 2016 graduates and each one has a great story. We highlight just a few more here. Congratulations to everyone!

William Curran, Sr. and William Curran, Jr. are father and son firefighters who will be graduating with a Fire Science degree from Vol State.

“I will have to say that I really didn't anticipate ever finishing my degree. I had started my degree over 10 years ago and when the Nashville fire department quit paying for it, I quit going. So advance 10 years later and my son has joined the department and figured that he could finish his degree pretty quick, therefore asking me to finish mine with him. At first I said no, but after realizing that I only needed six classes that I would give it a shot. I wanted him and my other three kids to see that dad could do what I have asked them to do, finish college. The other reason I chose to finish school was because I was number eight of ten children and had the desire to be the first to earn a college degree in my family. I will say that it was no easy task learning many techniques on the computer and writing essay papers after years of being out of school. Being in school with my son is what drove me to get this degree. Knowing that he would do well in classes challenged me to do well also. I felt a real need to set an example for my son William Jr., but also for my other three children. You will never know how glad that I am to be done. It was definitely a challenge, but one that I am glad I followed through with.” 

-William J. Curran Sr.

"Going to college with my father has been different, to say the least. I never would have thought that we would be in school together. We had one class together while we were in school, which has been a competition, at least in my eyes. I have tried to get a higher grade on all of my assignments. That matchup was the veteran Captain verse the young firefighter and I guess we will see who comes out on to as soon as our grades are posted. Now, graduating with my father is very special to me. When I decided to come back to school, I had no idea that we would graduate together. Having my father walk across the stage with me, at graduation, will be a moment we will never forget."

-William Curran, Jr.

Donna Fair is a single mom graduating with an AAS in Vet Tech. She traveled to Ireland and Mongolia as part of the International Education program.

Why did you decide to return to school after so long? 

While in high school, I had every intention of going on to college. My family moved several times while I was in high school, so I attended 4 different high schools, in 3 different states. When I got to my senior year, here in Tennessee, I didn't have all of the needed classes to graduate, without taking some freshman classes and even a night class in economics. Needless to say, I was pretty burned out by the end of my senior year, so I decided to take a one year break after I graduated. Life being what it is, I didn't make it to college, instead, I fell in love and married at 20. Our first daughter was born 3 years later and the second daughter followed 3 years after that. Unfortunately, when the baby was just 2, we divorced and I became a single mother, raising two daughters and working full time. Fast forward to 2012. By this time, I have been managing apartments for 15 years and my girls are grown and off to college themselves. I knew that I didn't want to manage apartments for the rest of my career life, so I decided to quit and go to school. It was my turn.

Why the Vet Tech program?

When trying to decide what to get a degree in, I thought about what I would enjoy doing and what brought me pleasure. I'm a cat person. I have been since I was a small child. I don't remember a time that cats and I didn't go together. But, I love all animals. Being 49 years old when I started, I knew that becoming a veterinarian was going to be too long and too expensive for the career years that I had left, so Vet Tech it became.

You have had some unique experiences while at Vol State. How did Ireland and Mongolia trips impact you?

My mother is half Irish and I have always thought that I would love to go to Ireland, so it became my chosen destination for study abroad. I found out about the scholarship that helped pay for the trip and I set out to get one! Those 3 weeks were so fantastic! I enjoyed the countryside, the people, the food, the sights, the places, the experiences, the castles... I would not have been able to travel to Ireland for 3 weeks without having pursued the study abroad program!

If not for having traveled to Ireland with Dr. Espey, I would not have gone to Mongolia. The trip to Mongolia was VERY different from the trip to Ireland, on every level, really. The reason we went, how we were chosen, how we were hosted, no studying, only representing (the college), our schedule, the food, the customs, all of it. Everything was planned for us by our Mongolian hosts. They made sure to fit lots of fun into our trip, as well as plenty of delegation opportunities, with several schools. Where I was able to experience Ireland and enjoy their country, we learned much more history of Mongolia and the people and were immersed in their daily lives much more.They are a delightfully fun people, but very serious about education. I was blown away by how simply they live, but how seriously they take education, from a very early age!

What would you say to other adult students considering going to college? 

It is never too late to follow your dreams or to change your path. It might take a little longer and be a little harder than when you were 20-something, but it is very do-able. You are never too old to learn. Honestly, I feel that my mind is younger and stronger for having exercised it so well these last couple of years!

-Donna Fair

Maram Almansour will graduate with her University Studies degree.  She came here to study from Saudi Arabia.

Why did you travel from Saudi Arabia to study in Tennessee?
In Oct 2010, I came to the states with my husband. I think we chose the United States rather than any other countries to better our education. In another word “It is better to get my degree from the US than any other place”. In 2010, I was not able to do much English. I just had very Basic English, so I had to get in an English program for a year. 
How has your experience been at Vol State?
 Vol state is a very amazing school. Great and high level of education. Good locations, smaller classes where you get to know better about the course and participate to instructors easily. So helpful staff, all the material that we need to success in our studying are available. 
What do you hope to do with your degree now that you are graduating?

I am going back home since it has been almost two years away. Then I will try to find a job over there and get my bachelor degree in the same time. There is a big possibilities that I come back to the United States and get my master and PHD degrees in the future.  
-Maram Almansour 

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