FORT RILEY — Retired Sgt. Jenise Hiram grew up in an environment of alcoholism, crime and violence in The Bronx, New York. In terms of life trajectories, hers did not begin with a high likelihood of a bright future. Thursday, however, she proved origins and situations can be overcome.
“I’m supposed to be a statistic,” she told graduates of the Fort Riley Education Consortium schools Thursday afternoon during the consortium’s commencement ceremony. “But I’m here. It’s a change in mindset we all made.”
Hiram is a Barton Community College alumnus, and Thursday she was celebrating the next tier in her educational achievement. She received her Bachelor of Science in social science with a certificate in psychology from Upper Iowa University.
She asked the crowd to ponder how they all had arrived at the moment of celebration, citing sacrifices of comfort and free time, and the care and support of family members.
“We have family support structures like no other,” she said of military families.
Along with the other consortium schools, Barton Community College at Fort Riley celebrated the graduation of about 150 of its own students on Thursday at the Courtyard by Marriott in Junction City. Of those graduating, nearly 120 chose to walk.
“This is a moment to enjoy and relish in, and to repeat,” she said, encouraging her fellow graduates to continue their pursuit of self-improvement.
Earlier in the day, Barton also held an Honors Ceremony for students in the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Fraternity, which recognizes non-traditional students who maintain a 3.5 GPA and have completed at least 24 credit-hours. They also honored members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which recognizes students who carry a 3.5 GPA and are enrolled in at least 12 credit-hours.