After graduating from high school, the Columbia native said she wanted to attend a four-year school to study criminal justice. But while weighing her options, Perry learned she’d save money by taking her first two years of classes at a community college.
“I wanted to go straight to a university and get out of Columbia,” she said. “Then I started looking at the benefits of community colleges. You save lots of money to take the same classes you would be paying double the amount for at a university.”
Perry began taking classes at HCC, with an initial plan to receive her associate degree in criminal justice.
“My first semester, when I walked into Evelyn Del Rosario’s class for Intro to Criminal Justice, we learned about what criminal justice is,” she said. “It was so interesting. I learned about the Constitution and our basic rights. I knew this was definitely something I wanted to get into, and I’ve been hooked on it ever since.”
As Perry looked at the books and classes required for criminal justice, she realized she could get more than just one degree in two years.
“I thought, ‘I might as well get my social sciences degree, too,’ because the classes I had to take for criminal justice went along with the social sciences classes,” she said. “Then, when I saw I could get those two degrees, my general degree would have been accomplished too, so I thought, ‘Why not get that as well.’”
Throughout the next two years, Perry took a well-planned combination of classes to help reach her goal.
“I felt like they would all prepare me for my future career,” she said. “I want to be a lawyer, and I would need everything that those classes taught me.”
Perry also joined HCC’s Student Government Association (SGA), a student-run organization that involves students in the administrative, legislative and judicial governance of the college. During her second year at HCC, she served as the SGA’s club liaison and vice president – and she did it all while pregnant with her first child.
Career Links, an HCC program designed to help single parents achieve their educational goals, and the scholarships she received made it all possible, Perry said. Among her scholarships: The McCuan Family Foundation Endowment scholarship, the Howard County General Hospital Rising Business Star Scholarship and the Family Foundation – Career Links Scholarship.
Career Links staff members also connected Perry with Generation Hope – a nonprofit organization focused on college completion and early childhood success for teen parents.
Perry graduated in the spring with three associate degrees and is now studying at UMBC, where she plans to double major in political science and sociology.
“I started off going to HCC with just one major mind and then expanded it to having three degrees,” she said. “It really gave me the motivation to continue. Now, I have two more years left with another double major to get my bachelor’s. Then, I can go to law school from there. With all this extra knowledge I gathered from HCC and the new knowledge I am looking forward to gaining at UMBC, I feel like I will be prepared all the way through. I’m confident I will continue my goals based on the accomplishments I’ve done so far.”