MARIETTA, OHIO—Washington State Community College’s (WSCC) newest Student of the Month, Harmony Izaguirre, got her higher education start as an adult learner.
Izaguirre spent much of her life performing minimum wage, manual labor jobs. “That was good enough, when it was just me,” she explained. Her perception, however, changed when she had children. “I wanted a better life for them and to be a better role model. How could I express the importance of a good education when I didn’t possess one myself?”
Determined to be a model for her kids to emulate, enrolled at a four-year college. However, beyond knowing she was interested in science, she found herself still perplexed as to what her end goal should be. It wasn’t until Izaguirre had a year of college under her belt that she learned about the career Medical Laboratory Technician. Izaguirre confessed it was a job she didn’t even know existed, however after it was described, her heart leapt and she yelled, “Yes! Yes! That is me, that is what I want to do!”
Once she learned that the best Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) program was at Washington State, the Parkersburg resident took advantage of the school’s reciprocity, which provides in-state tuition to residents of twelve W.Va. counties, and wasted no time enrolling.
As a mom, a wife, and a student, Izaguirre is always performing a balancing act. Yet her success is the product of hard work and determination. “I am the first one there and one of the last to leave,” she said. When a hand is raised in class, whether it’s to ask a question or to volunteer, it’s usually Izaguirre. “The first step to being brave is to be vulnerable,” she confessed. The gregarious 42-year-old admitted that she hasn’t always had the confidence she has in herself today, however, instilled in her since childhood was the mindset to always be the best you can be. “I take pride in everything that I do,” she emphasized.
On her journey to be the best MLT, she has included her classmates because she has no plans to enjoy her success alone. She’s established study techniques that benefit the whole class, including chat and study groups and quiz games. She said she did this in an effort to create comradery within the class because, “I believe if you fall in a circle there are more hands to catch you.”
Furthermore, in an attempt to maintain the learning momentum she started, she’s reached out to the first-year MLT students and shared her strategies and encouraged them to pay it forward to next year’s new class. “They’re using my ideas,” she excitedly shared. “I am so proud of them.”
While Izaguirre set out to be an example for her small children at home, it’s the role she finds herself in with her classmates, serving as a mentor to fellow MLT students. And while she’s happy to provide the support others may need, she’s quick to point out that she equally benefits because, “teaching others is one of the steps of mastering it myself.”
Izaguirre is set to graduate next spring and plans to earn her bachelor’s degree. For other adults considering college, Izaguirre wisely shared, “Success starts with believing in yourself in spite of your fears. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I look forward to the days that I’m falling apart and a crying hot mess. Those are the days that motivate me. Those days will teach you, that you are smarter than you know, that you can do this, and that you are worth it. Then, just let them try and stop you!”