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Ashworth College alumni impress and inspire us each year with their spectacular achievements. This year, we received hundreds of Graduate of the Year applications from students who have overcome self-doubt and life’s challenges to find new beginnings and fresh paths to success. Graduate of the Year is an award given to one graduate who shows academic excellence, goal achievement, and drive to make their life, and the lives around them, better. It was hard to choose, but these three students stood out at the top of our list to be named Graduate of the Year Finalists. Here are their stories.
Carren started her academic journey in 2009. Though she was on track to earn her Associate Degree in Business Management, life took a turn and Carren’s studies were put on pause with only one final left to complete. This missed opportunity haunted her for over 10 years, so in 2021 she re-enrolled with Ashworth. She completed the final, earning a 3.95 GPA and membership to the Delta Epsilon Tau Honor Society.
Carren wasn’t content to stop there, though. “After achieving that goal, it lit a fire under me that made me enroll immediately into two diploma programs after graduating; one in Payroll Clerk and one in Bookkeeping, both of which I completed and graduated from with Honors.” She is now enrolled in Ashworth’s Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration program with plans to finish next year. “I get the satisfaction of showing my kids that with determination, you can achieve anything.”
Animal lover all her life, Penni always had dreams of working in veterinary medicine, but life seemed to take her in another direction.
“I found myself raising a family and stuck in a job I was not happy in.” Able to retire early, Penni seized the opportunity to begin a second act in her life, finding a job at a feline-only veterinary hospital. There, the doctor took her under his wing, but Penni felt she was still missing something when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Her hours were cut, but instead of taking it as a loss, Penni used the extra time to enroll in Ashworth’s Veterinary Assistant Career Diploma program.
Before she knew it, she completed her externship with Banfield Animal Hospital and earned her diploma in addition to a new job! “I never thought I would be living my dream, especially at my age. I learned so much more and was treated like family … I am still pinching myself! Thank you, Ashworth!”
Tiffany always had a desire to move upward in her career but knew she would need a degree to do so. A busy, full-time working mom and wife, she worried that her schedule simply wouldn’t allow her to pursue her studies, but Ashworth’s flexibility gave her the tools and time to earn her degree.
“The convenience of doing my degree at my own pace was the right fit for me as a working woman. I saw many late nights studying, taking quizzes, reading class material and writing papers in order to reach my degree … but my determination to get to the finish line kept me focused and gave me the push to keep going.”
Noticing new positions at work opening, Tiffany began to push herself even harder and reached her goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in July 2021. In just two months, she interviewed for one of the positions and started her new role as a Middle School Education Therapist.
“Enrolling with Ashworth College was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. The classes that I took for my Psychology degree provided me with the information and rigor that has been useful for me in my new professional role.”