What started out as an argument with her 7-year-old-son a few years ago about doing homework alone ended Wednesday with an associate degree for Morgan Barton, who graduated from Carroll Community College with a degree and a new passion for early childhood education.
“While sitting at our old, scratched up kitchen table together, we decided that I had to go back to school,” Barton said during her speech at the college’s commencement ceremony.
Barton had taken a nine-year break from higher education before re-enrolling in 2020.
“So, I started on a new chapter in our lives,” Barton said. “It was the best decision that we ever made.”
Barton, a single mother who was raised by a single mother, said while attending the college, she found her passion for teaching and also became a student mentor, a Newman Civic Fellow and president of the Early Childhood Education Club.
Attending college during the pandemic was challenging, but she persevered.
“It was chaotic, and for about a week, I considered withdrawing from Carroll until the pandemic ended, however, I just couldn’t leave. I was a part of the community that Carroll had built. Carroll was an anchor for its students,” Barton said.
Many graduates expressed similar emotions, including Christiana Costlow, who received an associate degree in accounting. In 2020, she contemplated dropping out of college after her husband’s death.
“I almost didn’t graduate, but I knew he would want me to finish,” said Coslow, adding that she plans to use her degree to advance in her career.
Graduates ranging in age from 16 to 68 years old were celebrated Wednesday during Carroll Community College’s 29th commencement, the first in-person ceremony since 2019.
In all, 203 graduates participated in the ceremony at McDaniel College’s Gill Center in Westminster and received associate degrees or certificates in various programs. The Class of 2022 included a total of 323 graduates, according to Lynda Swanson, communication and administrative specialist at the college.
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Del. Susan W. Krebs, a Republican who represents Carroll County’s District 5, was the keynote speaker. She praised students for their perseverance during challenging times that included a pandemic.
“You have persisted through incredible obstacles over the past couple of years, along with the teachers and staff who had to pivot many times to provide you with the best educational experience possible under unprecedented circumstances,” Krebs said.
The top six schools that graduates will transfer to are Towson University, University of Maryland, College Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Stevenson University, University of Maryland Global Campus, and McDaniel College. About 60% of this year’s graduates are expected to work in Carroll County, Swanson said.
Savannah Myers earned an associate degree in nursing from the college and said she was “super excited” to graduate in person. She plans to work in the emergency room at Carroll Hospital.
“I have been in college for so long and I’m so ready to be done,” Myers said.
Jeremy Green, who has worked as the college’s librarian for 12 years, said the return of the commencement ceremony gives “a sense of normalcy” for faculty, staff and students.
“It’s a little weird to be back, but I’m happy to see it,” Green said.