Pregnant with her seventh child, Sara Hopson walked the stage to receive her diploma at the Two Rivers Theater aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Referred to as “base graduation” at Craven Community College (Craven CC), president Dr. Ray Staats conferred degrees to Hopson and fellow military veterans at the 42nd annual graduation ceremony.
These base graduates were congratulated as they exited the stage by Wally Calabrese, dean of learning and operations at Havelock-Cherry Point campus, and Mitch Martin, Military Affairs Resource Center coordinator. Graduates, dignitaries and guests were treated to performances of “Anchors Aweigh” and “Marines’ Hymn” by the 2d MAW Brass Quintet at the end of the ceremony. Hopson was met with congratulations by family and friends in the theater’s lobby.
Sara Hopson is among the approximately 20 percent of the 585 students who graduated in Craven CC’s class of 2017. Hopson received an associates degree in business administration. She was asked if she would take a break when her child was born. She quickly responded saying, “No,” and said would immediately continue her education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Thirty-three-year-old Hopson is a U.S. Air Force veteran, wife of husband Roger, mother to Hailey, Caleb, Elijah, Hannah, Zeke, and Emma. She is expecting their seventh child in August. Hopson started at Craven CC in 2002 with the incentive of college being paid for by Veterans Administration benefits.
When Hopson’s husband left the Marine Corps, she enlisted in the Air Force in 2005 assigned to her first duty station in Alaska. In 2011, Hopson was medically retired in Arizona after a cancer diagnosis. She and her husband had three children at that time. They moved to Florida, and then to Alabama to be closer to family.
In 2014, Hopson and family returned to Havelock because her husband began working at Fleet Readiness Center East. She decided to finish her degree in fall 2016 and enrolled full-time at Craven CC.
When asked how she could accomplish getting a degree with her busy schedule with her family. “We’ve got our system and we just make it work,” said Hopson. Her husband works at night so he would help during the day.
Hopson said she would do school work when her children were sleeping. “I didn’t want my education to take time from them,” said Hopson. She said the children were very supportive and good helpers around the house.
Hopson added, “Our faith in god has gotten us through all of this.”
Hopson advised others thinking about pursuing their college education, “It will never hurt you to learn, even if you can only take one or two classes in a semester. In the long run, it doesn’t matter how long it took or how difficult.”
Deborah Kania is the director of communications at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.