Amber Hall could’ve let life knock her off the road to success, but the Stark State honor student is determined not to yield to the detours.
Even when it’s a malignant brain tumor.
After graduating from Canton South High School in 2006, Amber enrolled in business at a local university. Changing her major, she headed to another school for prerequisites, then back to the university where she was on a health sciences waiting list. Meanwhile, she became a single parent to a son.
Then doctors found the tumor. They removed 95% of the malignant growth and told her the damage likely would leave her unable to go to school or work. Ever. For Amber, however, it meant a setback of just one semester.
The 3.8 GPA student was determined to learn how to study all over again. She transferred to another university, and by 2010 had decided Stark State was the place she should be. Now with a general associate degree and an associate degree in dental assisting in hand, she has all but one class for a business marketing and management degree, too, and plans to graduate with a dental hygiene degree in 2014.
Amber is confident she’s found the right path. “I resisted coming here at first, but when I did it felt like home,” she said. Her mother, who passed away last year, had studied nursing at SSC and Amber knew some staff and students. So she jumped in with both feet. “In high school I was super active – president of four or five clubs – and I told myself I wasn’t going to get that involved again.” But maybe, she admitted, being involved is just in her nature: she’s an outgoing officer of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, vice president of the Stark State Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association chapter, president of SSC’s Alumni and Friends Association and a member of Students in Free Enterprise and Women of Color. “My son thinks he goes to SSC too,” she said.
Amber appreciates having parents who urged their daughters to continue their education, she said. Her sister is graduating this spring with a BSN in nursing. “I’m glad I persisted,” Amber said. “Now I’m seeing patients and can put my ‘book education’ to work in a clinical setting. All that knowledge is coming out through my hands.”
Stark State was the perfect place, she said, to combine the ingredients of her life into a successful outcome. “I love the faculty and stay in touch with former professors. I get invited back to speak to dental assisting students. Stark State is large, but personal.” Next to the faculty, she added, the best thing about SSC is great opportunities to find your niche.
Which may be why after she graduates she plans to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, laying the foundation for a future which she hopes will include a return to Stark State as an instructor.
Looking back as a parent and cancer survivor, Amber has some advice for her 18-year-old self – and others looking to find their path. “Take advantage of all your opportunities,” she said. “Don’t close any doors.
“You’re going to get sidetracked by life, whether you brought it on yourself or it was an accident. But failing is not the end of the road. Have a goal, stay focused and be determined. You’ve got to want something better for yourself.”