June 13, 2018
Story and photo by Brandon Steinert
Barton Community College graduate Sam Corona of the Fort Leavenworth campus knows what he wants in life, and he’s not wasting any time. He has only been out of high school for about a year and he already has about two years’ worth of college credit to his name; a tremendous amount of progress toward his intended career as an orthopedic surgeon for the US Army.
He crossed the stage to accept his associate degree at the Barton Community College Fort Leavenworth campus graduation with his classmates on Wednesday, June 13 at the Lewis and Clark Center at Fort Leavenworth. Barton celebrated the graduation of 30 students during the ceremony, which was in conjunction with the other colleges making up the consortium in the Fort Leavenworth Education Center.
Corona said Barton’s six-week sessions have made his rapid progress possible, with a full load of three classes during each session. All the material is still covered in the six weeks, which means its delivered in a more concentrated format with longer and more frequent meeting times. This can be a challenge for some students, but Corona developed methods for keeping up.
“Lots of shots of espresso,” he said with a laugh. “I try to approach the work one step at a time. If you try to do all of it at once, you mentally overload yourself and don’t want to do it, so you just have to take it step by step and do a little bit at a time until its due date. The best thing to do is just show up to class. If you miss a day here, you’re really far behind.”
Corona’s next step is to transfer to the University of Kansas to study biology and premed with a minor in health management. He said he feels well-prepared thanks to the instructors at Barton.
“Barton is the best thing that has helped me so far in life and has been a major player helping me to reach my college goals,” he said. “Barton is really good at helping throughout the entire cycle. The instructors don’t want you to fail; they stay after class and meet you outside the class time to help you. Barton is very good at helping you achieve you goals faster, but they max it at three classes per session and that’s good. I think if I took four, I’d be over the top.”
He said his mom was an ER nurse, and seeing her help people as they’re rushed in the door inspired him to pursue a vocation in medicine – saying he always wanted to help.
The life of an orthopedic surgeon is fast paced and challenging, but Corona said the reason he has been successful at Barton is the same thing that will make the career a good fit.
“I don’t like the idea of a nine to five job, but I love facing a problem head on,” he said. “As an orthopedic surgeon, you walk in to the operating room and anything could be happening. Somebody’s arm could be broken and you have to know how to fix it.”
Corona also commented on the diversity of the student body, which includes high school students, traditional college students, parents returning to school, Soldiers and lifelong learners.
“It’s helpful to get new ideas from people who have different experiences and thought processes,” he said. “In high school you all kind of think the same thing. You’re the same age group looking at the same material and getting the same experiences, but sitting next to a 40-50 year old mom with her 19 year old son right beside her gives you a different experience or perspective on how to take in life.”
He said he could go on about the benefits of attending Barton, but to top it all off is the cost savings. He has made two years of progress into his college career and doesn’t owe a dime in student loans.
“If I had gone to a four-year college I would have owed $10,000 by now,” he said.
State Representative Jeff Pittman delivered the commencement address, congratulating the students on their achievement and wished them the best in the future. He said this celebration is an important step in their journeys, but underscored the importance of continuing to live a life of curiosity and to pursue further education.
Barton Community College's association with Fort Leavenworth started in the early months of 2012, with the first college program classes held in October 2012. With the support of the Army Education Center and the Army leadership on post, the Barton Fort Leavenworth campus continues to grow and provide services to the Army, its Soldiers and their families and the Fort Leavenworth community.