May 23, 2018
Story and photo by Micah Oelze
Susanne Yarmer and her son, Justin White, did not expect to walk across the stage to accept their associate degrees on the same day, but their lives took a few turns and they celebrated the milestone together at Barton Community College on May 11.
Yarmer initially began her college education at Barton right after high school, as many do, but transitioned from the role of student to mother and put her education on the backburner.
She returned to Barton in 2015, but as test proctor, not a student. About a year later, her son Justin was in an accident in which he suffered from head trauma.
After the incident, Yarmer homeschooled White until he was prepared to take the GED through Barton’s Adult Education Center and to participate in the Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Technology program.
Through all this, one step at a time, Yarmer was working on her degree in Medical Administrative Technology.
“I was just going along as I could, and when I realized we were going to graduate together, I was taken aback,” she said.
On May 11, both Yarmer and White crossed the stage and received their respective degrees during Barton’s 48th commencement ceremony. White was unable to walk the stage with his high school classmates, so the experience was entirely new for him.
“Graduating is nerve-racking,” he said. “I have never done this before: graduating and walking the stage.”
While nerves were a bit shaken, it did not overcome the excitement of the moment.
“The fact that he received his high school diploma through the Adult Ed Center and his Natural Gas certificate and associates degree in a year is a blessing,” Yarmer said. “So many people helped make this happen. They cared and took the extra time to give us answers we were not even looking for.”
White works at Ron’s Welding and Pipeline Service in Russell and said he loves his job and is excited about the future.
“I’m looking forward to traveling and seeing the United States with my career,” he said.
With her passion for adult learning, Yarmer plans to continue serving in her role at Barton as a Testing Specialist for the Adult Education Department.
“I don’t want to go anywhere else if I don’t have too,” she said. “The people at Barton are great on every level. I am so proud to be an alumna and employee.”