Wedded grads: 'It's an honor to share this'
DANVILLE — Shanna Doggett admits that since deciding to go back to school in the fall of 2012 she has occasionally asked herself, "What was I thinking?"
But these past two years, the Westville woman managed to juggle raising three active kids, working a full-time job as a records clerk at Walgreen Accounting and being a full-time student at Danville Area Community College. And during that time, her husband, Steve Doggett, was also a full-time student at DACC while holding down a job as an Urbana firefighter and serving as a volunteer for the Westville Area Fire Protection District.
Both not only finished their programs on time — or ahead of their original schedule — but are graduating with honors from DACC today.
Shanna, 31, who will receive an associate degree in business administration, is graduating magna cum laude. Steve, also 31, who will receive an associate degree in fire science, is graduating summa cum laude and will serve as a marshal, leading the recessional at the commencement exercises.
Shanna, who graduated from Westville High School in January 2001, didn't see much opportunity for advancement in her current job, so she decided to pursue a bachelor's degree to broaden her career options. She hopes to work as a human resources director someday.
Meanwhile, Steve, who graduated from Westville High a semester before Shanna, had been taking firefighting classes at the University of Illinois' Fire Service Institute. He enrolled in the community college's fire sciences program last year, after learning that most of his credits would transfer to DACC and that he could finish his coursework online.
"Managing school was possible only because I took online or hybrid classes," he said, explaining that his work schedule wouldn't allow him to attend traditional classes.
Shanna, who took mostly online classes and some night classes, said the two had to be extremely organized, follow a schedule and have a determined attitude. Steve also said they supported each other through it all and had the understanding of their son, Alex, 10, and daughters — Molly, 8, and Madelyn, 5.
"The kids have been very patient with us," agreed Shanna, who will begin online classes toward a bachelor's degree in business administration at Indiana State University this fall. Steve has already begun online classes toward a bachelor's degree in fire service management at Southern Illinois University.
"They know to ask if we are taking a test before bothering us when we are working on a class," Shanna said, adding that she and Alex sometimes did their homework together. "I hope that someday, they remember the importance Steve and I placed on obtaining a college degree and choose to pursue their own college degrees."
Shanna, who didn't attend her high school graduation ceremony because she finished a semester early, said she's looking forward to participating in today's commencement exercises at the Mary Miller Center. It will truly be a family affair.
Shanna's younger sister, Skylar Davis, also of Westville, is earning an associate degree in accounting and will be graduating along with them. The couple's children and parents will be in the audience cheering them on.
It's "an honor to be able to share this experience with my husband and sister," Shanna said.
Five of the nearly 200 graduates who'll be a part of today's Danville Area Community College commencement, set for 7 p.m. at Mary Miller Gym, 2000 E. Main St., Danville:
Jolyn S. Silver, of Rossville, will deliver the class response.
Bethany J. Hutson, of Georgetown, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
William Tyler Reynolds, of Danville, will lead the tassel ceremony.
Steve Doggett, of Westville, and Nathaniel J. Gleason, of Danville, will both lead the recessional.
All five are summa cum laude candidates, meaning they have a cumulative 4.0 GPA and wear a gold tassel and cord and a medallion.