President’s Distinguished GraduatePresident’s Distinguished Graduate, Danielle Misterka, greeted more than 900 fellow-graduates as this year’s 2016 commencement speaker. The number attending commencement paled in comparison to the nearly 3,000 degrees and certificates awarded by the college.
Danielle, a first-generation college student, holds fast to the saying, “the third time is a charm.” Having enrolled twice at CCBC without completing a degree, her third attempt has culminated with Danielle graduating with honors and a degree in Chemical Dependency Counseling.
A first-generation college student, Danielle grew up under challenging financial circumstances where college was not a priority. She had to start working immediately following high school to contribute to the family finances.
“Although I dreamed of college, I felt selfish to ask my parents to help me pursue my dreams,” said Danielle. “It was a struggle just to survive from day to day.”But that didn’t deter Danielle. After a few years, she enrolled at CCBC, excited to start her educational journey. But a lack of support, paired with unbridled control from someone she “thought” she loved, stopped her in her tracks. Danielle’s withdrawal from school was abrupt.
The second time she was enrolled at CCBC, life took a difficult turn when her son was diagnosed with autism. Once again, Danielle put her dreams on hold and focused all her energies into caring for her son.
Never one to give up, Danielle worked through her challenges, developed a plan, and enrolled in CCBC for a third time. Fortunately, this time was not like before. She found her footing and excelled in her classes. She joined the Honors program and got involved. Even despite challenges that continued to come her way, this time Danielle had the strength and the support system she needed to reach her goal of earning a college degree. Next, she is off to UMBC on a Presidential Transfer scholarship with plans to major in neuroscience and minor in social work.
“If you would have asked me five years ago if I would be considering graduating from college, I would have said ‘no way.’ Life hasn’t been easy, but I still came out on top,” she said.
Today Danielle describes herself as a mother, wife, advocate, fighter, nurturer and survivor. She is also happy to add one more descriptor to that list: CCBC graduate.