12/01/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2023 23:06
In her own words, HFC student Angela Armstrong "stumbled" across the Michigan Reconnect program while searching online for colleges.
Michigan Reconnect is a program for Michigan citizens over the age of 25 who do not have a college degree. It pays for in-district tuition at no cost to the student. It was the missing piece for her to earn a college degree.
"I'm a first-generation college student," said Armstrong. "I came to HFC because Michigan Reconnect allowed me to take classes at my local community college at a very low cost. I've always been a big fan of community colleges for their accessibility factor and value. It's the best education and value for your dollar!"
Michigan Reconnect also came in handy for Armstrong when she and her two children, Katie and Will, were all taking classes at HFC last summer.
Will, who is studying fine arts and animation at the College for Creative Studies, was a guest student at HFC. Katie is in the pre-nursing program at HFC and plans to transfer to Wayne State University to earn a bachelor's degree. Both of Armstrong's children were taking general education requirements last summer to reduce their fall course loads.
"Having three family members in college at one time is a lot for any family!" she said. "But I stayed because of the consistent progress I made in reaching my goals of becoming a future counselor and because of the environment at HFC. It's been such a positive place to be and a great place to learn, grow, and reach my life goals."
Seeing their mother modeling the importance of education instead of just telling them they need to get an education was a good example for Armstrong's children to follow.
"Watching my mom go through the process of getting her college degree has been so inspiring," said Katie. "It has motivated me to begin my own college journey."
"They've been such an inspiration to me in returning to school," said Armstrong. "When the time came for them to take some college classes, they'd heard me talk about HFC so much that I think they knew it would be a great choice and a great place for them to begin their college experience too."
Armstrong is engaged in a friendly competition with her son.
"We're in a race to see who can finish their bachelor's degree first," said Armstrong, who added with a laugh: "Right now, I'm in the lead!"
Will plans to catch up to his mom soon, and then keep going.
"I'm really proud of all of my mom's achievements at HFC," said Will.
Born in Lansing, Armstrong - the eldest of six - was homeschooled her final two years of high school in Albany, NY. She and Sam, her husband of 25 years, and their two children live in Dearborn. Will and Katie were homeschooled through a cooperative that meets in Redford.
Armstrong graduated summa cum laude from HFC at the end of this summer, earning her associate degree in social work and counseling. Her career goal is to become a therapist.
"Attending commencement in May was a huge highlight for me," said Armstrong. "Everything I've liked doing in my life has been in the helping professions. Many different people have poured into my life, and I look forward to giving back to others as I enter the field of social work."
Armstrong is continuing her education at Wayne State, where she will major in social work. She also plans to earn her master's degree in social work at Wayne State.
"HFC definitely prepared me for Wayne State, a top-tier research university," she said. "Its location and tuition costs made me decide to transfer to Wayne State. My Michigan Transfer Agreement has been met there and the School of Social Work is well-funded and an exciting program to enter."
One person who had a positive impact on Armstrong was HFC Academic Advisor Sherry Clippert-Devogel, who is now advising Will and Katie.
Armstrong was one of Clippert-Devogel's first Michigan Reconnect students. Armstrong also enrolled at HFC during the pandemic. At that point, Student Services was conducting business remotely.
"I met with Angie for the first time during a telephone appointment in 2021," said Clippert-Devogel. "I continued to advise her through her graduation date this summer. Now I'm advising Will and Katie, who are both Advancement Plus students."
"Sherry has been a godsend. She really went the distance for me. She helped me with everything: Enrollment, course selection, timing of when to take what, career counseling, and encouragement to keep going," said Armstrong.
Despite advising Armstrong for more than two years, Clippert-Devogel had never met her in person until Armstrong was nearly done with her program.
"Angela and I hoped to meet at commencement, but we missed each other because she graduated in the morning ceremony and I helped with the afternoon ceremony," explained Clippert-Devogel. "Then she invited me to Katie's graduation party. I cannot tell you what an awesome experience it was when Angie greeted me as Katie's mom, not knowing who I was."
Armstrong confirmed this.
"I had never seen Sherry's face before then," she said.
"I was able to introduce myself to her as the person who had partnered with her from Day 1 all the way through to graduation and transferring to Wayne State!" said Clippert-Devogel. "We both were brought to tears. She introduced me to friends and family as if I were a rock star. Nothing is more rewarding to me than helping my students realize their academic and career goals."
Returning to academics later in life never made Armstrong feel different from her classmates.
"The professors made me feel like everyone else and there was never any age discrimination," she explained. "I have always felt championed and respected. I've learned from some of my younger classmates and they've come to me for help, given some of my experiences that have come with being a little older. It has been a very rewarding experience. My professors have all been amazing. Everyone at the College has been incredibly supportive and helpful. I've met a lot of great people and learned so much during my time at HFC."
For those who might be on the fence about pursuing higher education, Armstrong wanted to share a simple thought.
"It's never too late. Just do it," she said. "You're going to spend the next years of your life doing something. If you've ever wanted to return to school to finish your college degree or go to school for the first time to get your degree, learn something new, and gain those experiences, start today. Make that call. Send that email. Fill out the forms. Just do it. You can do it! It's such a great example to the next generation and so tremendously rewarding."