Hannah Austin, a Luray-Page County resident, describes Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) as the "perfect solution" for her. She would even like to return to LFCC one day as a professor.
Hannah graduated from LFCC in May with an associate degree in general studies. She took all but one of her classes at LFCC's Luray-Page County Center, and she plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from James Madison University; she also hopes to eventually complete a master's degree.
"I might be biased, because I want to be a teacher, but I think that change in this nation will begin when schools begin to turn out educated critical thinkers," Hannah said. "I want to see schools equip kids with the skills and comprehension they need to be the next generation of leaders."
Hannah was home schooled, and in her senior year of high school, she took an LFCC art history class at Page County High School. When she finished the class, she was still unsure about where she wanted to attend college, but she heard about the opening of the Center and decided it was an ideal situation for her.
"I could go on and on about all the great things LFCC has to offer, but the absolute best thing for me has been the people," she said. "I have met some great friends and mentors during my three years at the Center, and through these connections, I have had many wonderful opportunities."
Hannah worked at the Luray-Page County Center as a student assistant. Her primary responsibilities were to answer student questions, handle receptionist duties and perform other various office duties. In addition, she worked at the Page News and Courier, beginning as an intern in February 2006. After her internship, she was given a position as a contributor, taking pictures of community events every other weekend and writing occasional stories. Hannah feels strongly that community colleges are a good choice for anyone contemplating college.
"I love how my professors always [knew] my name. The personal atmosphere created a climate of learning that was truly ideal for me to be successful," she said. "It is not the name of the university that matters, but the education you receive. LFCC saved me a lot of money and equipped me to be successful."
In her spare time, Hannah enjoys reading, writing, visiting with her 10 siblings and spending time with friends. She is proud of the fact that she has made it this far.
"It has been a long, hard road — a lot of long hours of work, late nights of homework and virtually all my energy," she said. "After receiving my associate degree, I know there is a lot of hard work to be done in order to receive my bachelor's degree, but I know I can do it! I feel empowered."