If there had to be one word to describe Alona Harris and her journey, it would be perseverance. After nine semesters of hard work at CCBC, she graduated in Spring 2022 with her associate degree in Business Administration.
CCBC 2022 Graduate,
Alona migrated to the United States from Jamaica in 2017, shortly after she finished high school. She had hoped to have a “do over” of her senior year because she didn’t have the best experience, but because she had already graduated, she was told she had to apply to college.
“I found out about CCBC and decided to apply,” said Alona, who was anxious about taking the placement tests. “Knowing that it was much smaller than a four-year institution and that it had smaller class sizes made me a bit more comfortable with the idea of going to college.”
She enrolled in CCBC and instead of starting with college level English, she was placed in ESOL classes – English for Speakers of Other Languages. This discouraged her at first, because being from Jamaica, English was her first language, so this held her back a semester.
“I was ready to give up because I knew this would delay my plans of soon starting a career, but with the help of mentors and college officials, I accepted my fate and stuck through it,” she said.
Alona ended up doing well that semester and the ESOL classes helped her get more comfortable with college and gave her the confidence to communicate effectively.
“The experience taught me I shouldn’t put a time frame on my achievements and that these hurdles are just lessons and can be used as guidance,” said Alona, who was a member of the CCBC Honors program, as well as two different honor societies – Phi Theta Kappa and Kappa Beta Delta.
Alona served as a First Year Experience Mentor, vice president of scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa and president of the CCBC Business Club on both the Essex and Catonsville campuses. She was awarded the Student Life Running Start Award, which is given to a student who shows excellence in academics as well as co-curricular involvement at CCBC.
While in her Psychology 101 Honors class, her service learning project involved tutoring young children through Reading Partners, a nonprofit organization that helps improve youth literacy skills. “I love guiding and helping others to be their best, and it’s something I take much pride in,” said Alona.
Alona plans to transfer to a four-year university to study Clinical Psychology. She would like to eventually earn her master’s degree and become a clinical psychologist.