Portraits: Bahnson Glenn

Blue Ridge students reinvent themselves

One of the many wonderful things about Blue Ridge Community College is the opportunity it affords students. Specifically, Blue Ridge provides students the ability to reinvent themselves, to enact meaningful, substantive change in their lives. The College’s open-door policy, low cost, and wide variety of degree, diploma, and certificate options create easy access for students looking to reimagine who they can be.

Sometimes these transformations are lateral or vertical movements; students move between comparable career tracks or seek advancement in a particular field. Other times the reinventions are more drastic and constitute a near complete metamorphosis for the student. In any case, this ability to support change, to foster growth and development, is central to the mission of Blue Ridge.

Students seeking to reinvent themselves come to Blue Ridge from incredibly diverse backgrounds. One remarkable example of that diversity is Elizabeth Bahnson.

Encouraged by her husband, she completed a Masters in Divinity at Duke University in 2008. Bahnson said, “I studied divinity because it was always an area of interest for me,” but upon completion of the program, she did not feel compelled to enter the ministry.

After relocating to Brevard, Bahnson taught music at Mountain Sun Community School and founded the Junior Appalachian Music program. Along the way, she realized that service was an element of the divinity program that merged with her other work.

It was then that Bahnson decided to enter the nursing program at Blue Ridge because she felt “compelled to serve” and saw nursing as an exciting service career with numerous opportunities. Bahnson will attain her Associate Degree in Nursing in Spring 2020.

Another impressive example of transformation can be found in Blue Ridge student Trish Glenn. After twenty years as a hairstylist, Glenn decided to act on a growing dissatisfaction she felt with that line of work.

In 2015, she entered the College’s accounting program because “I like math and numbers.” However, after five successful semesters in that program, Glenn decided the “rules and regulations were not my strong suit,” so she began to look for something different.

Flipping through the College’s catalog, she stumbled upon the Welding Technology program and decided to try out a class. As Glenn explains, “I had more fun in that class than all my accounting classes.” She thought to herself, “If I can have this much fun at work every day, then this is what I what I want to do,” so she enrolled in the program.

While the move seems a drastic departure, they’re really not that different. “Both require attention to detail and creativity,” Glenn explains, but she looks forward to working in a metal fabrication shop where she’ll make something lasting. She also looks forward to leaving behind the stressful environment of self-employment.

Both Bahnson and Glenn agree that Blue Ridge played a pivotal role in their efforts to reinvent themselves. For both, affordability is a big factor. Additionally, Glenn noted flexible scheduling was important since she was “able to complete classes and still work.”

As these examples illustrate, Blue Ridge provides a world of opportunity. Students often enter with another life behind them, seeking to construct a new life. Individuals looking to reframe the future, to reinvent themselves, can find a pathway to transformation at Blue Ridge Community College. Registration for the spring semester is open through Dec. 20. Call 883-2520 for more information.