July 15, 2004
Four years ago Travis Elliott, of Willow Street, didn't think he was college material. With the help of the Lancaster Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College, today the recent honors graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, is headed for graduate studies at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland this September.

A self-described average student in high school, Elliott wasn't sure what the future held. With his parents' encouragement, he decided to enroll in a Vermont college. Prior to the start of the fall semester, Elliott changed his mind about attending the school and returned to Pennsylvania.

"I came back here about two days before HACC was supposed to start. My father was the one who started researching it [as an alternative option]," he said, adding that his intent was to gain an introduction to college before transferring to a four-year program. "It was a last minute decision that was to my benefit."

According to Elliott's father Rob Reidenbach, their family was pleasantly surprised by what they found. "The office was crowded [with last-minute registrants], yet the people were so accommodating. They made the process crystal clear to the parent, and they spelled out the things a student had to do," he said. "I've had four kids go through college and the personal approach at HACC was unmatched at any of the larger universities."

The classroom climate also made an impact on Elliott.

"You had single moms and fathers working three jobs. You had people there to gain an associate's degree or get that supervising job," he said of what he found. "It was a very motivating atmosphere. That got me serious about school work."

Elliott spent the next year completing his general education requirements and deciding where he would transfer to complete his bachelor's degree. Once he had settled on Washington College, a premier liberal arts school on the East Coast, he began the transfer process.

"When I went to Washington College for the interview process, my advisor immediately recognized HACC," he said, adding that his advisor also was impressed with the quality of the coursework. "All of the courses I took at HACC transferred, which was interesting because the Washington College courses were all four-credit courses versus three credits at HACC."

When Elliott arrived in Maryland, he had a new outlook on his studies thanks to the year that he had spent at the Lancaster Campus.

"I did very well at HACC. That inspired me to say, 'I do have the tools. I can perform well,'" he said. "HACC was a great stepping stone for me. I don't think I would have had the self confidence that I had coming out of HACC [if I'd gone directly to Washington College]."

The self confidence and work habits Elliott learned at HACC's Lancaster Campus carried him through his undergraduate studies and impacted his decision to apply to five graduate schools in the United Kingdom--University of Essex, The University of Manchester, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and The University of Edinburgh.

Accepted at all five universities, Elliott has decided to attend the University of Edinburgh this fall where he will major in policy studies. He hopes one day to work in political consulting, perhaps for a lobbyist, or even earn a Ph.D. But for now, he said, "I'm going to wait and see how the master's program goes."

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