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MyStory 12

Success Stories of Catawba Valley Community College

Dr. Lisa Harrington, of Alexander County
‘79 Alexander Central High School
‘92 CVCC A.A. in Pre-Liberal Arts
’94 B.S., ’01 M.S., ’05 Educational Specialist and ’09 Doctorate in Education, Appalachian State University

Lisa HarringtonWhen I graduated from Alexander Central High School in 1979, I never thought about college. I got married and had my first son in 1981, my second son in 1982 and my daughter in 1988. I sewed for factories before and after school and continued doing that after I graduated and married.  

In April of 1990, at age 29, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After five surgeries in seven months, I decided that I wanted to do something that would leave a legacy for my children. I had always wanted to be a teacher. So one day, while my older boys were in school and my husband was at work, I went to CVCC and applied. I didn't tell anybody what I had done until I was accepted.  

I must have used 10 bottles of deodorant that first week in school, I was so nervous. I was the oldest one in all my classes. I had to start at the beginning in a lot of subjects but the instructors bent over backwards to make me feel comfortable and help me.

My family was very supportive of me while I was in school. I would get up and go to school early in the day, get out of class, go by the furniture plant to pick up cushions to sew, pick up the kids and go home. I had a sewing machine in the living room. I would sew cushions and do my homework after I had the kids in the bed for the evening.

After graduating from CVCC, I went straight to Appalachian State University in the fall of 1992. I did my student teaching at Alexander Central High School. When I graduated from ASU, they hired me as a permanent substitute and then as a math teacher. 

I wanted my master's degree and decided to try administration. When the Alexander County school system decided to include ninth graders in the high school, they hired me as an assistant principal.

I went back to ASU and got my Educational Specialist and then started the doctoral program in Spring 2006 and finished in 2009.

I remind students constantly that they do have options; that CVCC offers options. The option of the first two years of college and then transferring on to a four year college, like I did. Or, the option of a two-year degree for a better career.

What drove me from day one was the thought in the back of my mind that my kids will watch me and know they can do anything they want to.

I wanted to be a part of this CVCC campaign because if I can encourage one person to go back to school as I did, it will be worth it. CVCC gave me my start. I am CVCC.