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HCTC student helps poor in Haiti

Brittany ClaussenBrittany Claussen's goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner. She s working toward that goal by taking classes at Hazard Community and Technical College this summer, and has also spent part of her summer in Haiti helping the poor.

This 18-year-old 2012 Hazard High School graduate is on the fast track with her college education. By the end of summer, she will already have 26 college credits. It s been really hard, but it was worth it. During high school, she maintained a 3.5 grade point average in her college classes, worked an after-school job, and graduated from high school with the No. 2 ranking of her senior class of 68 students.

Her experience in Haiti was through the Three Forks Baptist Association where she was part of a 23-member team, including six nurses and a certified nurse-midwife. She performed vital signs, educated pregnant women, and distributed love bundles consisting of food, clothes and blankets. She volunteered her time in nine orphanages, feeding centers, and a village.

The need in Haiti is so great. They have absolutely nothing and they are so happy, she observed. I have a desire to help people in a big way. You don t think you are making an impact and then you step back and realize you have helped so much.

When she was age 16 and a high school sophomore, she first enrolled in HCTC classes, taking advantage of the SEEK program, which offers high school students classes at half the credit price. My Mom pushed me to take college classes to get started at early age. It just evolved from there. Her drive also is demonstrated by her work experience. At age 15, she worked at McDonalds and she now works for Food City, where she was recently promoted.

Thanks to her educational commitment, Miss Claussen is scheduled for graduation in May 2014 with an associate degree in Applied Science in Nursing. I would encourage others to take classes in high school if they want a head start. You have to be focused and determined, she said, noting her younger sister, 15-year-old Hannah, will also start taking college classes soon. I could not do this without the help of my family, she said.

Miss Claussen has enjoyed her HCTC experience. The faculty members are super sweet. I have had amazing instructors. They really help you. They push you. If you need help, they are there any time. They are very supportive. They really get on your level. I would highly recommend this school for anyone.

She is the daughter of Melody and Michael Claussen, of Hazard.