After graduating from Rockville High School in 2010, Steven Hollies struggled to continue his education.
“I had really bad depression in high school, and I was not in a place [mentally] where I wanted to be at school,” said Steven.
After working various jobs for the next seven years, and a few attempts at another community college, Steven learned that he could earn college credit through the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). It was then that he discovered Howard Community College (HCC), and in 2018, he passed nine CLEP exams, earning him 30 credits toward his undergraduate education.
“[I was in] a much better place mentally as far as knowing what I wanted and knowing what was important to me, and that impetus has really carried me through,” said Steven.
He enrolled in classes at HCC and completed the remaining credits towards his associate of arts in English degree, graduating in 2019. During this time, he also joined Phi Theta Kappa, an international honors society for community college students, and was recognized as the First Year Student of the Year in Student Support Services and as the English and World Languages Department’s Most Outstanding Student.
“It’s really important to have people that can speak and write incisively and get messages across that can help move people,” said Steven. “I see myself as being fortunate to have some skill in those areas, so I hope to be able to use my skill with language to move the needle on social issues.
“I’ve been very lucky that [the teachers] are very personally interested in my success because I show that I’m motivated and driven and I want to do very well at this,” said Hollies.
Steven was selected to be the graduating student speaker at HCC’s 2019 commencement ceremony, where he told his fellow graduates, “…while HCC was telling us the story of success… they were teaching us a different story - a story of creativity, of inspiration, of passion, of human connection and meaning. Because they know that success is not a place you get to. It’s how you live your life.”
Steven intends to move overseas to attend Aberystwyth University in Wales to earn his bachelor’s degree in creative writing and begin his career as a writer.
View his commencement speech below!
Wherever you want to go, you can get there from here.