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home : community : graduation announcement September 29, 2020

6/22/2020 1:20:00 PM
Harmon Overcomes Challenges; Earns Two Degrees
Will return to Gaston College for additional studies
Sharima Harmon(Photo Courtesy Gaston College)
Sharima Harmon

(Photo Courtesy Gaston College)

Lincoln Herald Staff

Sharima Natasha Harmon overcame challenges to recently earn not one but two degrees at Gaston College.

That’s the word from college spokeswoman Stephanie Michael Pickett. She explained that Harmon’s positivity and determination helped her pursue her studies. Harmon recently earned associate’s degrees in general education and criminal justice forensics.

A full-time student carrying an overload of classes, Harmon is also a single mother to a 10-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. She was pregnant with her son when she enrolled in Gaston College in 2015. But because it was a high-risk pregnancy, she eventually had to withdraw from her classes. To further complicate the situation, she was taking care of her 92-year-old great-grandmother at the same time.

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In 2016, Harmon re-entered Gaston College with a continuing education class, and she hoped to be accepted into the nursing program. Science class credits she had earned during previous college studies had either expired or weren’t transferable. But she had high hopes that eventually she would be able to get into the program.

“I attempted to go back to school in the summer of 2017, but I had to withdraw again due to child care problems,” Harmon said. “I came to the conclusion that taking classes while my older child was attending school would probably be the best course of action. I had to refocus and come up with a master plan.”

And in the autumn of 2018, everything changed for the better for Harmon. She was back at Gaston College. Midway through the semester, she learned about the TRiO program, which helps students meet their educational goals.

“Ever since, I have been focused and successful,” she said. “They told me about all the resources available to me, and that is one of the reasons I have been completing all my goals.”

In addition to attending to her academic and personal responsibilities, Harmon works two part-time jobs. One is as a PRN (or pro re nata, Latin for “for the thing born” or contextually medically, “as needed”) technician for CaroMont Regional Medical Center. PRN employees work when called, filling in for absent employees or covering during special situations. The other is as a work-study student with the Gaston College Financial Aid Office.

The staff at the financial aid office first got to know Harmon when she would come in to submit documents and paperwork to apply for aid. They were impressed by her optimistic outlook and drive to get her education at Gaston College. They learned more about Harmon when she became their work-study student and they found that her positive attitude and willingness to help were impeccable, according to Ungina Perkins, the college’s director of financial aid and veterans’ affairs.

“She always has a smile on her face and is always willing to give back to others in need,” said Perkins. “Another thing that impressed our staff is how she assisted us in our financial aid office Christmas project. Each year, instead of the staffers exchanging gifts with each other, we sponsor some senior citizens in Gaston County. This year, we gave gifts to three people who were in nursing homes and had no families. Despite the heavy course load Sharima had during that semester, she found the time to purchase items for the seniors and add their names to individual blankets and stockings, and she visited them at the nursing home. She also managed to finish the semester with a 4.0 GPA.”

Harmon is also a cancer survivor, and she pushed herself to work, go to classes and be positive while dealing with another recent cancer scare and biopsy.

“I kept pushing through,” she said, “and I have to say that the only person that can hold you back is yourself. Every day, I told myself that I could do it. I couldn’t let any obstacles stop me from being the best I could be for my children.”

Come August, Harmon will be back at Gaston College, starting the licensed practical nursing program. She would like to combine her forensics knowledge with nursing to pursue a career in forensic nursing.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, June 22, 2020
Article comment by: David Melton

Outstanding, what a special person,continue to move forward young lady.

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