Frona Akemon remembers depending upon government assistance but the turning point in her life was enrolling in college. As an instructor with the Appalachian Lifelong Learning Center located on HCTC s Technical Campus for the last 20 years, she helps others make major life changes so they can have an ideal job, just as she has. Her center provides numerous services to those who want to learn, including taking the GED so they can enroll in college.
Frona meets many students who think it s too hard to remain at Hazard Community and Technical College as a student, but she s quick to share her story of never giving up. Now, as a great-grandmother, she looks back on her career and is thankful for the choice she made to acquire an education. This is the life I wanted, she said.
Dropping out of high school, having a child, then getting married, having another child, then getting divorced were all major life events that led her to see the need for an education. I wanted off of public assistance and I knew education was the only way so I began by earning my GED, she said.
She enrolled at HCTC and earned an associate degree which qualified her to substitute teach. She wished the University Center of the Mountains had been created at that time. Seeing the need for a bachelor s degree, she enrolled at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Working all day, driving a far distance, and taking classes at night was not easy. I knew I couldn t give up, she said. After earning a bachelor s degree, she continued her education at Morehead State University where she obtained a master s degree in 2006.
She shares her story of perseverance with her family, and she has helped 11 members of her family to obtain their GED including a son, nieces, and nephews. I wanted more for myself and I wanted to support myself. I knew they did too.
HCTC has employed Frona as an adjunct instructor, teaching English 101 and technical writing. She presently works with the Accelerating Opportunity program, teaching classes with HCTC faculty members Ludrenia Hagans-Shepherd and Randy Bowling. She also helps with HCTC s Work to Learn program.
Frona is very open about her days of needing public assistance. My students know I m a dropout. I m very open and honest with them. I tell them it s not easy and how I got overwhelmed with all the work. I would have a cry have a pity party. But no matter how hard it is, I was not willing to stay in that condition. Giving up was not an option.
In the years ahead, Frona is looking forward to helping others come through the doors
so she can provide help, just as she has for former coal miners, phlebotomists, those
wanting a CDL license, and others. I love to help people and I tell them it s not
easy, but it s worth it.