Chatfield celebrates inspirational graduates

Submitted by Chatfield College

Chatfield College will hold its 47th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19 at the St. Veronica Church in Cincinnati, beginning at 10 a.m. The ceremony will feature 52 graduates from both the Brown County campus and the downtown campus in Over-the-Rhine.

Graduation is always a special occasion, but for some Chatfield students it marks an accomplishment that may have seemed out of reach just a short time ago. Chatfield is unique in the population it serves — most of its graduates are first generation college students – and many of them have had challenges in their prior educational experience.

Among the graduating class, you will find high school graduates who thought they either could not afford to pursue a college degree or lacked the confidence to try; single mothers who juggled work and raising a family, all while attending college; nontraditional-age students who never thought they could attend college in their lifetime; and many more who have overcome obstacles that could have prevented their donning a cap and gown.

Chatfield meets students where they are, providing the support and services these students need to succeed.

Trent Moore is a student who persevered despite his challenges at home. He grew up in Owensville and attended a public elementary school until the third grade, when his parents pulled him out of school to be home-schooled. Unfortunately, no home-school education followed. He was self-taught in his studies and lacked support or encouragement from his family.

Despite these challenges, Trent managed to work hard to keep himself from falling too far behind his fellow peers. By the age of 18, he had left home to pursue more educational opportunities and had found a full-time job to support himself. By the age of 20, Trent had earned his GED and enrolled in a state college as a full-time student, but withdrew the first day of classes after suffering a panic attack from high stress and self-doubt.

Deciding to give college another try, Trent visited Chatfield in Brown County and immediately felt at home when he visited. Despite experiencing some doubts and anxiety, Trent was able to begin classes at Chatfield, and it wasn’t long before he began to excel.

During his time at Chatfield, he was able to take on many activities like tutoring other students and serving as the vice president of both the Chatfield Student Service Club and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

After graduation, Trent plans to continue his education and earn his bachelor’s degree and ultimately, a PhD. He has a heart for volunteer work and currently serves on the Clermont County MRDD Board. His future career plans are to be an author, professor, and an advocate for those less fortunate.

“The family at Chatfield College has made positive and indelible effects upon my life. I don’t know where I’d be without them,” Trent said.

Nakéla Williams, a student who attended the Over-the-Rhine campus, has an inspiring story of her own. She was stuck in the foster system — bouncing around from family member to family member — until she was finally adopted at the age of 9.

She grew up with eight siblings, and times were tough and money was tight. After graduating from high school in 2011, Nakéla hoped to further her education at Chatfield College, but when she went into labor with her first child while in class, she made the decision to drop out and focus on motherhood.

A few years down the road, now a single mother of two, Nakéla hit another bump in the road. While giving a friend a ride, she was shot eight times by errant gunfire, and as a result, was unable to work. Stuck at home and trying to figure out the next course of action that would benefit herself and her family, Nakéla decided to return to Chatfield College to complete her degree.

Once back at Chatfield, Nakéla wasted no time taking control of her education and getting involved. While dealing with her own medical issues, as well as her son’s, along with all the other duties and responsibilities of a single mom, Nakéla attended classes full time.

In her two years as a student, she served as a founding member of Over-the-Rhine’s Chatfield Student Service Club, a student tutor, a student fellow in the development department, and a work-study student in the resource center. She will graduate this Saturday with an associate degree, but her education is far from over.

In the fall, she will be attending Mount Saint Joseph University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in social work, and then eventually plans to earn a master’s in business. Her dream is to open a foster youth center for children who are aging out of the system — a cause that is very near and dear to her heart.

“Going back to school was hard and it required a lot of discipline, but there were so many people at Chatfield who wanted to help me along the way. This place is amazing, it will be hard to say goodbye,” Nakéla said.

Chatfield College is a private, faith-based, liberal arts college offering the Associate of Arts degree in Brown County and Cincinnati. It is an open enrollment college.

The Brown County campus is located at 20918 State Route 251, St. Martin.

Submitted by Chatfield College