Graduate feature: STC online student, Dallas native earns long-awaited degree
Eden Hirschy from Dallas, made the nine-hour drive to the Rio Grande Valley to accept her bachelor’s degree from STC’s Computer and Information Technologies (CIT) program during the college’s commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Bert Ogden Arena.
Throughout her life, Eden Hirschy’s most constant friends have been computers and books, keeping her company and teaching her lessons even through her most difficult moments, and this weekend those lessons have helped her in the quest for a bachelor’s degree from South Texas College.
For the last few years, the Dallas resident has been an online student in STC’s Computer and Information Technologies (CIT) program. She said this experience has meant the world to her.
“I’m not your traditional student,” said the 39-year-old. “I’m not traditional in any sense, from age to my illness, everything has taken me longer than most, but I’ve never given up on my dream or myself.”
Hirschy started college at 16 as a dual enrollment student in her hometown; she likes to emphasis that it’s taken her 23 years to get her degree because it proves resilience, determination and perseverance do prevail.
With her first brain-related illness at 18-months-old, her life has been filled with doctors and hospitals, including 15 brain surgeries to reduce excess fluid in her brain in hopes of alleviating constant pain and surviving four bouts of meningitis. All the while, it was her books and computers that kept her company and connected to the outside world.
“There have been moments where I never thought getting a bachelor’s degree was possible, which made me sad because I was the only one in my family without one,” said Hirschy. “But I’ve been able to overcome illness and constant pain to walk that stage.”
“There have been moments where I never thought getting a bachelor’s degree was possible, which made me sad because I was the only one in my family without one. But I’ve been able to overcome illness and constant pain to walk that stage.”
Walking that stage with her cap and gown has been a dream Hirschy has had since high school, a memory that still makes her emotional, making the nine-hour drive to the Rio Grande Valley more than worth her while.
“I was sick in high school when I walked the graduation stage and when I got my associate degree I was in the hospital, so to be healthy as I can be and finally graduating is a dream come true,” she said. “This is an experience I will never forget.”
She was joined in celebration by her mom, dad and service dog, Jack, as she and more than 1,200 STC students were conferred as graduates in ceremonies held at the Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg.
“I credit this day, my success to my instructors…I could not be where I am today without them,” said Hirschy. “Despite the fact that I was more than 500 miles away, I never felt alone.”
With a knack for breaking apart and rebuilding computer hardware since the age of 12, she knew what type of program she was looking for when she started her college research.
And Hirschy said, STC did not disappoint.
“I was looking for an online school, accredited, affordable with added extras…I would know when I saw it, I remember thinking,” she said. “STC’s CIT had everything I was looking for.”
From the program’s instructors and teaching styles to the resources and additional certification options, Hirschy said she was impressed.
“I was never a full-time student, two classes a semester was the max I could handle, and when things got tough, it was my instructors who kept me going…they never gave up on me either,” she said. “I took it one class and one day at a time. STC really taught me that I could do anything.”
In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Hirschy also graduates with three additional certifications offered by STC’s CIT program – Google IT Support Technician, Google UX Design and Google IT Automation with Python.
“I am more than ready to begin my career. Everything I’ve learned and earned at STC has set me up for success,” said Hirschy. “I’ve had great support and the fact that, for the first time, I never had to use disability services, speaks to the caliber of my instructors’ expertise and professionalism. They’ve inspired me.”
Inspired by STC, Hirschy will continue her education to earn a master’s degree in Computer Science with a focus on Artificial Intelligence to one day design technology for the disabled.
“I still have a long road ahead and my illness will require life-long treatments and surgeries, but I’m so happy and excited that I’ve been able to achieve one more dream,” she said. “Next step is to help others achieve their dreams too with technology and STC has given me the foundation to do that.”
For more information on STC’s Computer and Information Technologies program, visit bachelors.southtexascollege.edu/cit/.
Registration for spring 2023 is underway. Classes begin January 17, 2023.