Anita Hribal is enrolled in the practical nursing program at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC). The 46-year-old Warrenton resident decided to return to school after being laid off from her job in December of 2008. She calls losing her job a "blessing in disguise," as she has always wanted to become a nurse, but never felt it was the right time to start school.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Hribal is a single mother of three. She received multiple scholarships from LFCC, which have helped her pay for books and supplies. She credits the scholarships with her ability to attend school while still supporting her family.
"I am very grateful," she said. "It was needed and timely, and very kind of them."
Hribal has enjoyed her time at LFCC so much that after her graduation this summer, she plans to return to pursue an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Nursing. Her favorite things about LFCC include the small class sizes, the accessibility of professors and the quality of education she received.
When not in class, Hribal enjoys spending time with her children, one of whom also attends LFCC. They take trips to the park, watch movies together and even help each other with homework. She is also an avid fan of the television show, "The Biggest Loser," but says between school and family she rarely gets time to watch TV.
Hribal's love for her children may stem from her own mother, whom she says is her hero. She is inspired by her mother's work ethic—she raised three children on her own while working as a waitress. "She always laughed; my brothers and I always laugh too," she says. "She always helped others and, even now, helps if she can."
In addition to spending time with her children and studying for classes, Hribal has volunteered with the Special Olympics and is an active member of her church, but her true passion is learning. In the future, she hopes to use the things that she has learned as a nurse to help make a difference in the lives of others.
Advice that Hribal would give to other students searching for a college is to "take that first step by visiting your community college." She says you may be surprised with what it offers.