KOKOMO, Ind. – When she began college, Becky Harmon usually kept her questions to herself, and figured them out on her own.
An understanding math professor at Indiana University Kokomo gave her the courage to speak up in all of her classes, not just to ask for help, but to contribute to discussions.
“Math has always been a difficult subject for me,” Harmon said, adding that Deborah Jaworski, lecturer in mathematics, shared in class about how she had struggled at one time with math as well, and then went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the subject.
“She would break down the problems to where I would understand them, and then I felt comfortable asking for help,” said Harmon, who is graduating with a psychology degree in August. “It’s just gone up from there. I started with emailing questions, and then I felt comfortable talking to teachers after class and then talking in class.
“It’s definitely been a growing experience.”
That growth has not gone unnoticed in class, according to Kathryn Holcomb, associate professor of psychology.
“Becky’s insights how personality applied to examples drawn from her life were impressive, and she made consistently productive contributions to class discussions about personality development,” Holcomb said. “Her willingness to participate in class showed her confidence and understanding of the material.”
Harmon’s experienced a long journey leading to her degree. She first enrolled in a community college near her hometown of Bourbonnais, Illinois in 2015, taking one or two classes at a time because that’s what she could afford. She had earned her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license at an area career center, and initially planned to become a nurse.
After moving to Indiana, she transferred to IU Kokomo, and decided nursing was not for her. Instead, she chose psychology.
“I’d like to become a mental health counselor,” she said, adding that she’s especially interested in using emotional support animals for her clients. Harmon plans to get her cat certified after she graduates.
She’s continued to use her CNA license while earning her degree, working as a patient care assistant at a Lafayette hospital, and looks forward to moving on to a new job after completing her degree. She wants to work for a year or two before starting the master’s degree she needs to be a counselor.
“I’ve been a patient care assistant for my entire work life, so I’m excited to see what I can do with my degree,” she said.
Harmon is excited she’s nearly to graduation, with just the spring semester of classes and an internship during the summer to complete. She hopes others can be inspired by her example and not be discouraged when it’s taking longer than they want to reach a goal.
“I want people to know not to give up on yourself,” she said. “Don’t try to compare yourself to other people. That’s what I did. I had to remind myself that people are on different life paths. If you’re moving slower than others in your life, it’s OK. Don’t stress about it, and don’t give up on yourself. You will make it across the finish line.”