Craig Combs, age 29, and his mom, Juanita Combs, have more in common than their family relationship. Not only did they both decide to major in Medical Information Technology (MIT) at Hazard Community and Technical College, but they also both graduated on the same day.
For Craig, returning to school was the best choice for him. He had worked for a coal company, driving a rock truck, but he was laid off. He wanted a better future for his wife, Nyoka Combs, and their two young boys. The HOME program through LKLP provided financial assistance to Craig in enrolling in college.
Craig is a 2004 graduate of Buckhorn High School. When he entered college in 2012, he said it was overwhelming, but the encouragement of his wife, who told him he could do anything he set his mind to doing, kept echoing in his mind. Turns out, she was right. His first semester in college, he earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He graduated in May with high distinction, and he was named recipient of the President s Award for his contributions to the Admissions Office as a student worker.
For both Craig and Juanita, The MIT field in Billing and Coding is a good option because they can work from home. Craig said he enjoyed taking classes with his mom. Juanita, age 57, had been working for Sykes but was given the option to go back to school when the job ended through LKLP funding through the TRADE program. She also works full time for Credit Bureau System in Hazard as a Customer Service Representative.
Juanita said taking classes with her son was great. He helped me a lot, she said with a smile. It was a reversal of roles from when he was a kid. I used to help him with his homework, and now, all these years later, he helped me with mine.
Both former students praised HCTC faculty who helped them succeed, including Shalena Jarvis, Delores Vance, Stephanie Vergne, Daniel Madden and Tammy Richie.
Craig Combs plans to enroll in HCTC s Radiography Program in the fall, but he is glad
he has the MIT background. The MIT training makes it possible for him to have more
options as he advances in his career.
HCTC s Ready to Work Program helped both mother and son in getting an education. Juanita said growing up, as one of eight kids, she didn t have the chance at a college education.
Craig and Juanita are very pleased with the life choices they made regarding an education. Working full time, I was tempted to quit, but I reminded myself I m no quitter, she said. Craig encourages others to enroll in college. An education is one thing no one can take away from you, he said. With diplomas in hand, both Craig and Juanita look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead for each of them.