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Monday, June 24, 2013

‘Can-do’ attitude helps single mother of four further her education, land rewarding job

Janice Higgins-Hagans was widowed with four young children when she decided to further her education. (Photo from HCTC)

Janice Higgins-Hagans was widowed with four young children when she decided to further her education. (Photo from HCTC)


By Evelyn M. Wood
Special to KyForward

In 2000, after the tragic death of her husband, Janice Hagans-Higgins found herself a single mother of four young children. To make ends meet, Janice and her children moved in with her parents and survived on the money she received from Social Security. Janice knew that she needed to do something to provide for her family, so she took on the challenge of furthering her education.

She’s thankful for that choice because she is now the new Rape Crisis Center community educator in Knott County, a job she says is very rewarding.

In 2011, Janice graduated from Hazard Community and Technical College with an associate’s degree. She then utilized the University Center of the Mountains (UCM) to enroll at Lindsey Wilson College and obtained a bachelor’s degree in human resources and counseling in 2012. She is now working toward a master’s degree and expects to graduate in December 2014. She plans to work toward a doctorate offered through a new program at the University of the Cumberlands.

“When I started, I did not even know how to turn on a computer. Everyone was very patient with me,” noted the 39-year-old.

“We were fortunate to have Janice serve as a student worker in the UCM.  She was a cheerful, reliable worker who was also happy to provide informal peer advising to her classmates, and otherwise share her experiences and encourage potential transfer students to look toward their future with a ‘can do’ attitude, ” said Dr. Deronda Mobelini, director of UCM. 

The children she was left to care for alone have been a source of inspiration, she said. “They are very supportive. They love for me to sit and do homework with them, and they actually help me study,” she said.

Family and friends also have helped her along the way, she said.

Janice received financial aid along the way and was able to graduate from both HCTC and Lindsey Wilson College debt-free as a result.  

“Janice’s experience is an example of why the University Center of the Mountains was first developed – to provide improved access to higher education so Eastern Kentuckians can continue their education without leaving home,” stated Dr. Mobelini.  ”Historically, students in our region have had limited access to higher education because of financial and geographical barriers.  In addition to bachelors and masters level coursework that is provided by the UCM partners,  theUCM also provides assistance to transfer students as they move through the admissions, financial aid application, and general advising processes.  The UCM is a phenomenal resource for our students.”

In 1994, Janice obtained a Licensed Practical Nursing degree from HCTC and worked for local hospitals and day care centers. Those jobs helped prepare her for her present career choice.

Want to be the next success story? Call the UCM at 606-487-3252 or HCTC at 606-487-3102.
Evelyn M. Wood is director of public relations at Hazard Community and Technical College.



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