Dec. 21, 2005
Christina Funkhouser, of Hanover, has wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember. As a child, she watched her mother care for patients and understood what it meant to serve others. Although the path she took to her RN degree was not the one she had originally envisioned, Funkhouser realized her dream when she earned her nursing degree at the Gettysburg Campus of HACC. The college held its winter commencement December 21 in the Cooper Student Center at the Harrisburg Campus.

As a high school senior nearing graduation, Funkhouser finalized her plans for entrance into a nursing program, but the financial support she planned for did not materialize. Unable to fund a college education on her own, she had to put her dream on hold.

"A year later, I finally decided I would find a way [to reach my goal]," said Funkhouser, adding that she signed up for a local practical nursing program. "I worked as an LPN for a couple of years and then decided to get my RN degree."

Funkhouser had heard that HACC's Gettysburg Campus offered an associate degree course for LPNs wanting to become registered nurses. By enrolling on a part-time basis at a campus easily accessible from Hanover, she could continue to work and keep her dream within her financial grasp.

"The reason I chose HACC was because it was definitely affordable," she said. The flexibility of scheduling evening classes also was important."

During the next seven years, Funkhouser stayed focused on her goal. Although she put her classes on hold for a year and a half when she temporarily moved to Florida, she jumped right back in when she returned. She also married and had a baby during that time, yet managed to study, serve as secretary for the Gettysburg Campus Nurses Services Organization and meet the academic requirements to be inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

Her dedication to her goal also played a part in her winning the Valerie D. Allen Memorial Scholarship in 2001. The annual scholarship recognizes students at the Gettysburg Campus of HACC who are intelligent, hardworking, and conscientious, while successfully handling family, job and college with limited resources.

"My experience with [HACC Gettysburg's nursing program] has been beyond wonderful," Funkhouser admitted. "The instructors are extremely knowledgeable and always approachable. Because of the wide variety of clinical experiences we were offered, I was able to decide where I wanted to go when I graduate."

In addition to receiving her nursing degree, Funkhouser was honored with the Excellence in Nursing award from the HACC-Gettysburg nursing faculty. She was recognized during the nursing graduation ceremony at the Gettysburg Campus.

Tough Funkhouser has accepted a full-time position with Hanover Hospital, she doesn't see this as the end of her educational pursuit.

"I am considering going back for my bachelor's degree and will continue to take courses at HACC as long as I can," she said. "I would highly, highly recommend it to anybody."

At HACC's commencement ceremony, commencement speaker Dwayne Golden delivered a similar message of overcoming obstacles . Golden was recently honored as one of HACC's 40 outstanding alumni over the past 40 years. Despite facing many educational and health challenges, he went on to earn a bachelor's degree and a master's of business administration before starting his own firm, D. Golden & Associates. A Harrisburg resident, Golden also is actively involved in the central Pennsylvania community.

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