Hobbs Family to Graduate 3 This Year and 1 Next Year
4/29/2017 2:48:46 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.
[Story by Dorothy Fowler, Hobbs News-Sun]
Members of the Wagner family of Hobbs breathe, eat and sleep college.
That’s because three of the four, father Jason and daughters Leah and Rachel, will graduate from New Mexico Junior College May 12. The fourth member of the family, wife and mom, Heather, plans to graduate next May.
For Rachel, age 23, this year’s graduation will be her third. She graduated from the NMJC nursing program, earned her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 2016 and will graduate with a second Associates degree from NMJC as she prepares to study English and business administration. She is also pursuing a Master’s degree at ENMU.
This year’s graduation ceremony will be the first for Leah, 19. She will be graduating with an Associates of Arts degree with an emphasis in business.
She started college thinking she would study engineering, but after taking business classes, “I fell in love with it. Now I plan to go to ENMU and get a Master’s in business with an emphasis on marketing,” she said.
Both Rachel and Leah attended a private, church-related school in Roswell until the family moved to Hobbs, where they did not have access to a private high school.
“So, I home-schooled them,” Heather said.
Leah scored 812 on the high school equivalency test she took in order to get her high school diploma, “the highest score they’ve ever had anyone make on the test,” Heather said.
Both Rachel and Leah earned academic honors and scholarships. They are members of Phi Theta Kappa, the junior college academic honor society, Mu Alpha Theta, the mathematics honor society, and Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
They are also members of the Lea County Women’s Network and are active members of New Covenant Church in Lovington.
Jason, 45, will be receiving his first degree when he walks across the stage at the NMJC graduation.
“The more the girls went to school, the more interested I became,” he said. “And I wanted to set a good example for the girls, to show them I believe education is important.”
Jason Wagner is a master electrician employed as a project manager at URENCOUSA.
He’s also enrolled at ENMU, where he is taking online classes. He’s taking a full load, will continue through the summer months, and if all goes as planned, will graduate with a degree in business administration next May.
“There really haven’t been any surprises as I’ve gone to school. A lot of it has been online, but I wanted to be in face-to-face classes for math and English at NMJC,” Jason said. “In high school I was not an ambitious student. If I could get a “C” without much effort, I was satisfied with that. But at college, I wanted to be as good as the girls.”
Apparently he is a good student, having been inducted into both Phi Theta Kappa and Mu Theta Kappa.
“One thing I didn’t expect was how much time going to school takes. It eats your time,” Jason said. “And I did have to make an adjustment to using technology that really didn’t exist when I was in high school. If you are going to go to school, you need to do it with your whole heart.” Heather, not only is wife and mother, but she’s also been the cook, chauffeur and performs all the other tasks that come with being a member of a winning family team. She started her formal schooling last fall.
“I had got acquainted with so many people in the offices at the college because I was bringing the girls to class and waiting for them. They kept asking me when I was going to start to school and so last fall I enrolled,” said Heather, who is leaning toward a degree in either early childhood education or elementary education.
“I want to be able to home-school my grandchildren when they come,” she added.
She is no stranger to school atmosphere and routine. During their time in Roswell, Heather worked at the private church school her girls attended.
“I taught when they needed a teacher, I cooked when they needed a cook and I cleaned when they needed someone to clean,” Heather said.
“She did everything there was to do at the school,” Leah chimed in. “There was nothing she didn’t do.”
Heather said the family is, “very close. We eat dinner together every night. If Jason gets home at six, we eat at six. If it’s midnight, we eat at midnight. Dinner is the time we get to spend together and talk about what’s going on in our lives.”
In addition to their academic work, the Wagners are a musical family. Both Rachel and Leah play piano. Rachel also plays guitar and Lea plays ukelele. Jason plays guitar and Leah sings with them. They use their musical abilities at their church.
In their “spare time,” the Wagners are recruiting their young nephews and cousins for New Mexico Junior College.
“They moved to Indiana, so we are already telling them how wonderful NMJC is,” Heather said.
“There is no better place to go to college,” Jason said.