Cara Twigg couldn’t have asked for a better freshman year at Howard Community College.
The Atholton High School graduate embraced her classes, hoping they would give her the direction she needed to choose a career. She joined HCC’s women’s soccer team, playing midfield and forward in the sport she’s loved since childhood.
But then in 2006, Cara’s life changed. Due to challenges in her family, she suddenly found herself living on her own, trying to balance work, school and mounting bills. College was just too much to manage at the time, she says.
“I put school on the back burner,” Cara says. “I had my son in 2010 and was then working two and three jobs at some points.”
Those jobs included administrative work at MedStar Harbor Hospital’s fetal assessment center and the University of Maryland Medical Center’s pediatric unit. There, the new mom found motivation to go back to school.
“After I had my son, I just reminded myself that I needed to continue that pursuit for my degree,” she says. “And seeing the nurses in the hospitals where I worked, I really liked what they did. It made me want to finish what I started.”
Cara took several nursing prerequisites at community colleges in Baltimore County. Then in 2017, she came back to HCC to gain her associate degree in nursing.
“Honestly, I had the best experience at HCC versus the other colleges,” she says. “I liked the support systems. Even in advising and admissions, everyone was really helpful. I just felt it was where I could be successful.”
She also picked up where she left off athletically, re-joining the women’s soccer team more than a decade after last kicking a ball as a Dragon.
“I was bound and determined,” Cara says. “I was still playing in rec leagues, so it wasn't like I was that far out of the game. I knew I had one more year of eligibility left, and I really just love soccer.”
Cara played in a few games her first year back and then focused her energy over the next three years on her studies.
Now a mom, Cara was eligible to receive support from Career Links, an HCC program designed to help single parents achieve their educational goals.
“Once I got connected with Career Links, a lot fell into place for me,” she says. “They were constantly connecting me and helping me, telling me, ‘Oh, have you done this?’ ‘You need to do a scholarship application’ or, ‘You need to try this.’”
She received several scholarships to help cover her academic expenses, including the JoshuaOneNine Career Links Scholarship, the Howard Community College Educational Foundation (HCCEF) Career Links Scholarship and the Maxim Charitable Foundation Scholarship. Cara also benefitted from the HCCEF Helping Hands fund, which provides money for unforeseen daily living costs like increased bills for data coverage, car repairs and transportation.
“The scholarships were very motivating,” Cara says. “I felt like there were people out there who were willing to help me if I was willing to put the work in.”
And put the work in she did. Cara graduated in spring 2020 and is now working for Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Cara says she’s grateful to HCC faculty and staff for welcoming her back with open arms and helping her achieve her academic goals.
“At HCC, they really care if you are successful,” Cara says. “They really care if you graduate. And they want you to be able to do it with as many support tools as possible or that you need. I'm satisfied.”
Cara created a blog to detail her academic and personal journey. To learn more about Cara’s story, click here.