Faculty and staff at McDowell Technical Community College will join 266 members of the MTCC Class of 2021 and their family and friends on Friday night to celebrate a milestone in their educational journey: graduation.
“I became aware of the Billing and Coding Program at McDowell Tech through mailers I received over the past four or five years and decided to look into it. I knew that I wanted to take this course, but I could not afford to do so.
“A year after I began working at Ethan Allen, where my daughter Allie Haney also worked, I learned that the plant would soon be closing. Allie and I did not know what we were going to do. Then we had a meeting where we were given the opportunity to go back to school.
I knew that was my chance to go take that course at McDowell Tech that I had my eye on. My daughter, who had been in a house fire with her three children a few years ago and had since wanted to become a nurse, decided that this was her opportunity to go back to school, too.
“So, together, we both came to McDowell Tech to begin working on our dreams.
“But soon after I came back to school—in fact, during my first semester back—my husband was in a motorcycle accident and nearly lost his life. He had to be airlifted to Asheville because he was hemorrhaging. He underwent surgery and survived, but ended up having several screws being placed in his hip. He had to learn to walk again. He can no longer ride a motorcycle, which I am not entirely unhappy about. I just did not like the circumstances that brought about this new, “non-motorcycle” life.
“Because of my husband’s accident, I almost quit school to take care of him. But because of the support from my instructors and family, I decided to stay.
“And then COVID became a pandemic and things got a little rough with the learning process. Most classes were fine for me, as it allowed me the flexibility to learn time management. I became very good at allotting time for each of my classes—now online—and time to work on material that these classes required. I did find that taking an Introduction to Computers class was very difficult to take from home with no face-to-face interaction, but with support from my Health Information instructors, I have been able to learn everything I needed to learn.
“I have enjoyed my time at McDowell Tech and have met an amazing group of people. I could not have asked for better instructors. They have all gone above and beyond to help me in any way. I have learned valuable skills in my clinical assignments with Rutherford Regional and while working with the McDowell County Health Department. Working with everyone at Grace Community Church, helping with the COVID vaccination program was also a great experience. I saw first-hand how things are managed in a pandemic situation. Our county has some very valuable people behind us.
“Now my daughter Allie has obtained her CNA license and is employed in McDowell County helping people. She plans to continue her education to become a Registered Nurse. And now I am going to pursue my dreams of becoming a coder, or at least start out somewhere in the Health Information Technology field.”
“Congratulations to Rhonda and Allie,” said Merritt, “for seizing an opportunity for educational and career growth and persevering to achieve their dreams. They are perfect examples of what drives our faculty and staff to do what they do so well everyday—teaching, learning, inspiring and encouraging success. Graduation truly is the best day of the year!”