Karen Briner: Student Finds Bright Hope During Dark Time
Karen Briner’s eight-year journey to obtain an associate degree at Carroll Community College will culminate this May when she walks the stage at Commencement. That day, the years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice as a part-time student will all be worthwhile.
“I can hardly believe it, but I am indeed graduating in May!” exulted Briner, a General Studies major with a concentration in psychology, and a full-time employee in the college’s Environmental Services area. “Ever since I registered for graduation, I have been going around, grinning from ear to ear! This day has been a long time coming—I started to take credit classes here in 2009, but I finally got there!”
Getting there has been an especially rough road for Briner after she suddenly and tragically lost her son to addiction. “I was in grief, and I was in shock,” she said. “As soon as I could quiet my heart enough to study, I began looking for classes on the subject. I took Mental Health First Aid, Abnormal Psychology, and Introduction to Counseling and Helping classes.”
Briner applauded instructor Richard Hann, from whom she learned how vastly different we may each react to the circumstances and influences in our lives. He also taught her much about opening doors of trust. “One day, I would really like to help make a difference for loved ones and their families who are facing the battle of addiction,” Briner said. “Mr. Hann provided direction and continuing interest in my progress in this field.”
Likewise, Professor Don Hoepfer taught her how important it is to put aside personal preconceptions in an effort to see things from another’s point of view. “He taught me that there is very often a benefit in taking time to meditate on a matter to get better perspective,” Briner said. “His example and patience in helping me do this has deepened my insight significantly. His analysis and guidance has broadened my view to be nothing less than panoramic.”
Briner also praised Dr. Jody Nusholtz for teaching her the craft of good writing. “I learned what a truly valuable service to the community well-executed writing is,” Briner said. “I want to thank Dr. Jody for her wise and sensitive instruction, for pushing me further when I thought the written pieces were done, and for the heart she has for students past and present.”
“My instructors have all been very available, very friendly and approachable,” Briner continued. “I have enjoyed my classes here tremendously because of each instructor.” The graduate-to-be also expressed her gratitude for the academic advisors who were generous with their time and research; the Academic Center staff and volunteers who tutored her, helping with math, science and English; and the library staff who was always available and willing to offer support.
I have enjoyed my classes here tremendously because of each instructor.
Briner said her next step after graduation is to earn a certificate in substance abuse counseling. Down the road, she may start the path towards a bachelor’s degree, and later may even pursue a master’s degree in counseling.
“For now, my attention is focused on my present accomplishment of an associate degree,” she said. “When the day arrives and I actually walk across that stage, I may appear to be walking alone. But really, I will be walking on the shoulders of all the great people I’ve met at Carroll who’ve had roles, great or small, in making it all happen for me!”