Like many PCC students, Michaela Haugabrook had been out of school for 20 years when she came to PCC in 1996 to take just one class. However, unlike most PCC students, Michaela faced a major language challenge. “I was scared to death; I had never been to an English school,” she recalled.
A native Puerto Rican, Michaela was educated in Europe, where she attended a French-speaking school. Following the European education model of either going to university or training for a career through an apprenticeship, she completed an apprenticeship in hotel and restaurant management. She came to North Carolina from Germany and ended up working in Roxboro. She retired from Royal Park Uniforms in Prospect Hill after more than 12 years (she was the company’s customer service manager when she retired).
“I came to PCC because there was one class I wanted to take,” she said. “And I honestly don’t know what happened, but before I knew it I was signed up for a degree program. So I just went for it!”
Michaela received her Associate Degree in Business Administration in 2000 and admits that the accomplishment was important to her. “I like to learn; I soak it up like a sponge whenever I get to do so,” she said. “So to earn my degree made me feel good, and it was important to me that I actually followed through with something. It took me three and a half-years, but I did it. My daughter was proud of me, too, and that was good. It was a challenge, but it was a good one.”
She credits the encouragement she received from some PCC faculty and staff as with helping her succeed in going back to school while continuing to work. “The instructors were great. It was a great atmosphere and was almost like coming home,” she said. “I encourage anybody at any age to go forward and take advantage of the possibilities that PCC has given people. You’re never too old or too young to learn. Whatever’s in your head, nobody can take from you.”