Frank, Harmon, Johns, Wareham Earn Degrees
By L. Blake, Michael James and Ernie Tiger
HOLLYWOOD - Tribal members Donna Sue Harmon, Jo Leigh Johns, Ollie Wareham and Anthony Frank were honored this month at their respective graduation ceremonies held at Northern Arizona University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Broward Community College.
Wareham and Frank received their Associate Degree in Business Administration from Broward Community College. They said they are excited to accomplish this goal in their life and both plan to further their education at Florida Atlantic University by pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration.
"I am glad to see the term finally come to an end," said Frank.
Harmon, the daughter of Gladys Jane Bratcher of Nashville, Tenn., and the niece of Mildred and Elsie Bowers of Hollywood and Martha Jones of Brighton, received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the Northern Arizona University.
Harmon said she grew up knowing she wanted a career where she could help people and after several years as an Aerobics instructor she decided to further her education.
Harmon said she considered becoming a nutritionist but could not envision herself in a position where she would "spend most of the time sitting behind a desk."
She chose to go into nursing where she felt more options would be available. She said she "got out a map of the Four Corners area and picked Flagstaff and NAU because of its small town atmosphere, outdoor activities, and Indian population."
Johns, on the other hand, made history by becoming the first Seminole Tribal member ever to earn a degree from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
Johns accepted her social science degree before a packed house at the Everblades Arena. In his commencement address, FGCU President, Roy McTarnaghan recognized Johns for the courage and determination that she displayed in reaching her goal.
"Twice a week, she would make the two hour trip to school from the Brighton Reservation," he said. "She would spend all day on campus, arriving back home at 11:30 at night. All this in addition to attending to the needs of her 18 month old daughter, Kalgary."
Similarly, while pursuing her degree, Harmon also found time to give birth to twin boys, Eli and Levi, without missing a day of school. She said she went into the hospital on a Friday for a caesarian delivery and was in school for a lab class the following Monday.
Harmon said she could not have accomplished this without the help and support of her husband Eddie and her mother Gladys. She wants to thank all of her family members for their financial, emotional, and spiritual support.
She also would like to thank Pat Jagiel, Stacy Jones, and Camellia Smith of the Education Department in Hollywood.
Anthropology professor Dr. Susan Stans said Jo Leigh's success as a single parent and student demonstrates anything is achievable once you put your mind to the task.
With a well-deserved look of relief in her eye, Johns reflected on the past two years at the university.
"I took five classes this semester," she said, adding she maintained a 3.5 GPA during this final push for graduation.
Johns admits the task was at times difficult. She credits a strong family support system and the 'user friendly' atmosphere fostered by FGCU as helping her succeed. As Florida's newest university, FGCU pioneered innovative ways to help students reach educational goals through distance learning opportunities.
Johns said attending FGCU from its inception was the equivalent of getting a private education at a public price because of the small classes and the individual attention she received.
Back home at Brighton, Johns is exploring ways to employ her knowledge to benefit Tribal youth. She hopes to begin a mentoring program and provide educational guidance. She also plans returning to FGCU to work on her master's degree.
Harmon has not decided on her immediate plans but would like to continue her education to obtain an advanced degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner or possibly a Nurse Midwife after her children are older. She, Eddie, and the twins will be welcoming a new addition to the family in December.
Congratulations Donna Sue Harmon, Jo Leigh Johns, Ollie Whareham and Anthony Frank for a job well done!