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Monday, May 15, 2017

ACC Grad Earns Degree for Better Life

When Angelica Smith and her husband faced difficult economic struggles, she felt it was time to go back to school not just for her career but for her children.

“Everything compounded on us,” she said. “It was difficult to pay the bills. I had to tell my kids no to everything.”

In 2011, Smith enrolled in the Alvin Community College GED program and would go on to earn her diploma. On Saturday, the Alvin mother graduated from ACC with an Associate Degree and is now embarking on a profession.

“I knew I could do it so I did things one step at a time,” she said.

With the encouragement of ACC advisor Toby Herzog, she enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program. It helped get her a better-paying job and it was more financial support for her family.

But, she wanted to go further. So while working as a nursing assistant, Smith continued to take credit courses. She wasn’t sure yet about what degree plan to pursue until one of her children needed an ultrasound one day.

“The tech was so loving and I found it was something I could do,” she said.

She quit her job as a nursing assistant and enrolled in the Diagnostic Cardiovascular Sonography (DCVS) program where she quickly excelled and was an influence on other students, said Jessica Murphy, DCVS director.

“She is such a dedicated student,” Murphy said. “She lifts up her fellow classmates by encouraging them and forming study groups that meet at her home where she makes them tamales.”

DCVS instructor Deb Kleinhans said Smith’s motivation was inspiring.

“She has worked hard to get to where she is,” Kleinhans said. “She has applied herself for the demands put on her. She has been a wonderful student and friend.”

Smith performed extremely well at her clinical instruction sites and was eventually hired to work there before she graduated. Smith also won the department’s Clinical Star Award along with the DCVS institutional scholarship.

Now that’s she’s graduated and working in the field, Smith said she will take a small break from school to spend more time with her children and gain professional experience as a sonographer.

“I love caring for people,” she said. “I helped take care of my grandparents. I love interacting with my patients and I love sonography. I feel like I’m in a good place but I do plan to go on and get my bachelor’s degree.”

While her degree and career was important financially for her family, Smith hopes it serves a bigger purpose for her children. After she received her degree, Smith’s daughter gave her words of encouragement.

“She told me, ‘we can do anything,’” Smith said. “This is a good example for my kids.”

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