February 1, 2021

While 2020 may have been memorable for people in not so positive ways, Nina Sanborn had much to celebrate. Her life and plate were filled with marrying her high school sweetheart, having a baby and earning a college degree in 2020. Even an emergency gallstone surgery did not keep her down as she continued her busy schedule and jumped right back into college in January 2021 to work on her bachelor’s degree with a two-month old in tow.

Like many high school graduates, Nina didn’t know what she wanted to do or be. But she did know that she wanted to start working full time and to continue her education in a focused way that would provide her with knowledge she could apply professionally. The Belmont High School graduate wanted to pick a specific focus – after some guidance from her mother – and decided to go to nearby Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) and study business management.

“LRCC was a great experience. The low tuition fit my budget and the professors were amazing, understanding and helpful. They were willing to work with me so I could balance in my personal life and be successful. The classes were fun and engaging – it wasn’t just sitting and listening to a lecture. I loved the group projects and being able to work together as a team. I also really liked the smaller classes.  There were never more than 10 people in any of my classes,” she said.

“I always wanted to go to college, partly because neither of my parents were able to complete college. I wanted to challenge myself and business piqued my interest because of its versatility,” she said.

She started off taking five classes a semester while working full time but found that schedule to be a bit overwhelming and lowered her class load to a more manageable level. Additionally, she did not want to build up debt and found she could pay for school out of pocket for two or three classes a semester to avoid student loans.

She switched jobs after her first year and began working at AutoServ (now Nucar) in Tilton, starting as a sales representative in the Internet department. She found her colleagues to be incredibly supportive of her need to juggle work and school and recalls many lunchbreaks spent with her textbooks and homework. She also recalls how flexible the faculty and staff were at LRCC with her inconsistent schedule.

Fast forward to 2020, her third and final year at LRCC. She became pregnant in the beginning of the year and then the pandemic hit. When Nina found out she was pregnant, she put together a schedule to balance work, remote classes, schoolwork and time to spend with family. She would take every opportunity she could to work on homework. It was difficult, but she really wanted to complete her degree and credits good time management with helping.

In August, she married her high school sweetheart. They had been dating since she was a freshman. And in the fall, she was down to one class remaining to earn her degree. Then baby Bailee decided to come early and suddenly. Shortly after delivering Bailee, she ended up emergency surgery for gallstones. Because she chose to complete her class 100% online – Nina was enrolled in one of LRCC’s new Flex Classes where she could choose how to attend her class (virtual, face-to-face, or 100% online) – she was able to mostly complete all of her assignments on time. She also credits the understanding and flexibility of her instructor in being able to get her work turned in.

She calls 2020 an “insightful” year. “I realized what I am capable of doing. I learned I’m good with time management and figuring out balance.” Fully recovered and promoted to assistant manager at her job, she is applying her learning every day.  In January 2021 Nina began her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at Southern NH University.

Nina met her goal of completing her associate degree. And now she’s developed her next set of goals: work towards her bachelor’s degree, save for a down payment for a house, expand the family in a few years and work on making herself a better manager. “I feel good. I did it!”