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Balancing three kids, two part-time jobs and many extracurriculars isn't easy.

But Brandy Stabley, 43, of Red Lion, made it work. After five years, 12 semesters and two campuses, she walked away with her associate degree in nursing Thursday night.

In addition to getting her degree, Stabley was selected as this year's student speaker for Harrisburg Area Community College.

Earlier in the year, Stabley auditioned in front of the school administration by reciting her speech. In March she was given the good news, saying she was "beyond stunned."

“I’m excited to represent what I feel HACC students share,” she said.

Not a typical experience: Stabley started her pursuit for a nursing degree at HACC in 2011, first taking online class part time before eventually taking them on campus full time.

Not fitting the "typical" college student description, she was a little nervous at first.

“It was a pleasant surprise. I would look around and realize I wasn’t the oldest person in the classroom,” she said.

“Everyone here at HACC, you know, is balancing work, balancing family, balancing life and making their education a priority,” she said.

HACC has had such an impact on her that she said her 15-year-old son Noah has considered going to HACC after graduating from high school.

Education: She spent two years at the York campus before moving to the Harrisburg campus for three years.

Stabley called the nursing program intense, for strong-willed individuals.

The instructors do what they know they have to do to train quality nurses, Stabley said.

Stabley also credited the faculty and staff as being supportive of all the students at the school.

"They don't push you aside," she said.

Stabley took summer semesters, online courses, full- and part-time course loads to finish her degree in five years. She plans to continue her education to get a bachelor of science in nursing as well as a degree in health care management.

Involved: In addition to taking classes and raising three children, she was also very involved with the college. She said she took advantage of every opportunity offered to her.

She was involved with HACC’s Alpha Nu Omega chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the student government association.

"HACC helped me grow not only as a student. ... They helped my grow as a leader, a parent and as a member of the community,” she said.

Stabley also held two jobs during her time as a student, one of which was at the campus bookstore in York as a student employee.

"My boss at the bookstore, she could not have been more accommodating," Stabley said, adding that her employers knew when she needed to be at the hospital for training.

“She would fit in hours whenever it worked for me and I wouldn't get penalized for switching things due to clinics or seminars,” she said.

Stabley said her experience was invaluable.

"I’m not just walking away with a degree, I am walking away with experience that you can’t put a price on,” she said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@YDDornblaser.

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