Three sons. Two decades. One dream.

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Brianna Carey started college immediately after high school in 1990, enrolling at UNC-Charlotte before eventually transferring to East Carolina University.

There, she decided to follow a nursing track, hoping to go to nursing school at ECU after completing her core classes. She didn’t make it that far, though, quitting college during her sophomore year.

Like many other Americans, life got in the way of education. Brianna got married, settled into a decent paying job and soon started a family. There simply wasn’t enough time to go back to school.

But, just as life had got in the way of her education in 1992, it also led her back to college in 2013. After divorcing her husband, Brianna needed a way to support her three young sons.

“I knew that I needed training and a degree to obtain a meaningful career,” she said.

In May 2013, she enrolled at Oconee Fall Line Technical College, a school that offered the program she wanted, was close to home and included a “fast track” option to graduation.

According to Brianna, going back to school the second time around was much different than the first.

“I thought having to juggle parenting and school would make it much more difficult, but it’s actually made me more motivated and more focused knowing that I have three other lives depending on my success,” she said.

Brianna has taken advantage of every opportunity presented to her from extracurricular activities to financial assistance. She thought college was simply unaffordable and out of reach, but she’s received aid from the Pell Grant as well as several scholarships.

Brianna is currently in her final semester of the Respiratory Program at Oconee Fall Line Tech and holds an externship with the Medical Center of Central Georgia. She plans to continue furthering her education after May, with the ultimate goal of becoming a clinical instructor.

Although she faced many obstacles along the way, Brianna did not give up on her dreams and her determination to offer the best life possible for her children. The “Go Back. Move Ahead.” initiative and adult-focused programs and financial aid helped make it possible for her to return to school and complete the degree she has always wanted.

She went back. So can you.