Lisa Newcomer, 29, of Mechanicsburg walked across the stage at HACC’s Commencement ceremony today with two reasons to celebrate. In addition to receiving her associate degree in social services, Newcomer also marked today as the day she met her daughter for the first time since going through with an adoption.
Newcomer came to HACC in 2004 after high school but dropped out in 2006 after the death of her mother and aunt. “I realized that my life at that time was too hectic for school,” she said. During her time away from HACC, Newcomer struggled with family deaths, homelessness and abuse. In 2007, Newcomer learned she was pregnant and decided to go through with an open adoption. “I was blessed with having a baby girl, and I knew then that I had to do something in my life so that I can better myself and show her that I did all this for a reason, and that I did love her. I wanted her to be proud of me!”
Newcomer came back to HACC in 2013 with a goal to finish her degree because of the previous experience she had at the College. “HACC was the only stable thing in my life at that time. School was the reason I woke up every day. I had wonderful professors that helped me succeed and actually believed in me when no one else did! …The professors and my advisor have no idea the impact they had on me.”
While completing her degree, Newcomer worked in HACC’s Career and Transfer Center, helping students navigate the center’s resources and procedures, maintaining the job posting Web page and assisting with career events. She is also a mentor for Dauphin County’s Capital Region Ex-Offenders Support Coalition and works with offenders at Dauphin County Prison and Work Release Center. “I was close to where they were, and now I use what I have learned in order to motivate them. I want to give hope in a hopeless place.”
Since the adoption, Newcomer has remained close with the adoptive parents, exchanging letters and pictures and sending stuffed animals and books for her daughter. “I heard my daughter’s voice for the first time in [HACC’s Harrisburg Campus] Whitaker Hall parking lot before going to class to tell them I am graduating, and would love for them to be there! …I was the happiest kid in class that day!” Newcomer met her daughter for the first time in a private interaction with the family, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Newcomer says her greatest personal achievement is that she came back to HACC and graduated. “Although my mother is gone, I know now that she is with me every step of the day. My journey has made me strong, determined to do great things, made me humble, and brought me back to HACC to pursue my degree in social sciences where I believe I found my calling: to help others.”
Newcomer plans to attend Shippensburg University in fall 2015 to pursue her bachelor’s degree.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers more than 150 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to nearly 20,000 students at campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York and through online classes. In addition, HACC serves more than 29,000 students in noncredit workforce development, public safety, adult basic education and continuing education programs offered at all campuses and off-site locations in many communities in Central Pennsylvania. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit www.hacc.edu.