Haywood Community College


Contacts: Debra M. Davis, Diana S. Conard

185 Freedlander Drive

Clyde, NC 28721

828-627-4521 Fax: 828-627-4513

Date: 5-23-07

For immediate release.

HCC Awards Record Number of Degrees

Haywood Community College awarded a record number of degrees at the 2007 Graduation Ceremony. Each with their own story to tell and triumph to celebrate, the student body was full of people overcoming their obstacles.

Patrick Nichols finished his college career at HCC in a wheelchair after an accident left him paralyzed. He became the first student to participate from a wheelchair at a woodsmen’s meet. Nichols completed the Forest Management Technology program.

Melody Phipps received two associate degrees, a certificate, and a diploma at the ceremony. When Phipps decided to come back to school, she knew she would run into obstacles. Most people do. It’s always hard to come back as a middle-aged student. But for Phipps, the obstacles were even greater. She is deaf.

“It actually took a couple of years and a lot of encouragement to walk into HCC and apply,” Phipps explains. “I believe that as a disabled person we tend to limit ourselves out of fear. I have never been singled out because of my disability. HCC is saying to people with special needs, if you want it, you can have it and we are here to do everything we can to make sure that your dreams become reality. HCC has always treated me as an individual, a real person worthy of being listened to… and as a person with a disability we don’t always find that in the ‘real world’.”

Virginia Reece followed in her husband’s footsteps. He graduated from HCC last year and she finished the Medical Assisting program this May. The couple had 55 years of service between them at Square D before the plant shut down, leaving them with no job.

Virginia knew she never wanted to work in a factory again. She already has a job at Mountain Medical.

Zachary McTaggart, Fish and Wildlife Technology graduate, is fulfilling his life long dream. He is already on his new job as a park dispatcher at the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. “I am real excited,” he explained at the graduation ceremony. “I feel confident. I can now put some of the stuff I’ve learned to use.”

Dr. Lynne Barrett, private practice psychologist and member of the HCC Foundation Board of Directors, delivered the graduation address. “It’s never too late to go for your dreams,” she told the graduates. “Be sure to thank the people who made tonight possible for you. Give back to your community. Give your time, money, expertise. We all have strengths to give. The connections you make by giving to your community are what make life rich.”

For more information about HCC’s programs of study or how to apply, please call 627-4500.