Sibling success story: Tulsa Community College a tradition with seventh graduate from family without means | Local News

Written by on May 23, 2022

Sibling success story: Tulsa Community College a tradition with seventh graduate from family without means | Local News

Sibling success story: Tulsa Community College a tradition with seventh graduate from family without means | Local News

Tulsa Community College graduate Christopher Hrncir says his parents would have been considered poor with just one child. But he was one of 10 siblings.

“To say we were under the poverty line is an understatement,” he said.

That kind of poverty keeps many students from college; the expense and time away from work present extraordinary challenges. The Hrncir siblings found a way at TCC through its Honors Scholars and RISE programs.

The Hrncir family, with mother Linda Hrncir (mother) third from the right, gathers to celebrate Christopher Hrncir’s graduation from Tulsa Community College. They are Emily (Forrest) Hrncir (from left), Nathanael Hrncir, Anna Hrncir, Destiny (Hrncir) Womack, Rylee Gwaltney, Christopher Hrncir, John Hrncir, Linda Hrncir, Andrew Mihelich, Charity (Hrncir) Mihelich.

Nine Hrncir siblings have attended TCC; seven have graduated. Of those, six were Honors Scholars. The youngest sibling hasn’t decided her next move after graduating from high school.

Christopher, the next-to-youngest Hrncir sibling, is the latest TCC graduate. He earned an associate degree in human services pre-social work with plans to attend the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa for bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“For me, the path had already been blazed, with several other siblings having gone to TCC,” he said.

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The oldest sibling, Destiny Hrncir Womack, didn’t start college until she was in her 20s. Now she is an adjunct professor at TCC teaching English.

When she was about 10, their father, Phillip Hrncir, developed a seizure disorder rendering him unable to work. That meant their mother, Linda, was responsible for earning money for the family. They home-schooled their children.

Womack and her siblings started a house cleaning and gardening business. For a decade, the business expanded with strong relationships built with clients.

“Growing up, none of us considered college a possibility due to our financial situation and our belief in the exorbitant cost of higher education,” Womack said.

“In my early 20s, however, I was encouraged by several of my employers, including Tulsa philanthropists Emily Renburg and Patricia Spradlin, that it was possible to afford a quality education at Tulsa Community College.”

About that time, her sister Charity took a class at 3rd Street Clayworks. The owner, Jeff Wells, suggested she attend TCC to take advanced pottery.

So the sisters went to TCC together.

“The first composition course I took, taught by the inspiring and cultivating Dorothy Minor, changed the trajectory of my studies,” Womack said. “I was captivated and humbled at being given the opportunity to engage in conversation with those alive both past and present, and so determined to study literature.”

Those sisters became Honors Scholars and earned higher degrees. They also forged a new future for the Hrncir family, showing how college was possible. Several, including Womack and Charity, obtained higher degrees and are in professions such as nursing, accounting and ministry.

“While I do believe that diligence and perseverance are rewarded whether one’s path lies inside or outside of higher education, my family and I would not be where we are today without the significant assistance we have been given by the TCC community,” Womack said.

For Christopher Hrncir, the decision to attend TCC came down to money.

“The big driver for me was that TCC was cheaper, and I had a guaranteed way to pay for it through the Honors program,” he said.

“TCC was a good place to start, with transferring to a four-year university in mind. I didn’t think about other places to attend, and I didn’t really know about them, either. I know the path to get to where I want to be, and I know the benefits of using TCC to begin my education.”

His goal of becoming a social worker was born around age 14 when he saw his mother giving what she could to charity.

“My mom has always been poor for a lot of our lives,” he said. “But my mom took whatever opportunity she could to give back. My earliest memories were of her taking us to a food ministry she helped organize. Eventually, I learned that that’s what I wanted to do — help people.”

An aunt introduced him to the career of social work. Hrncir says he wants to be a counselor with the credentials of a licensed clinical social worker and master of social work.

While college is right for Hrncir, he says the degree must fit what a person wants to do for work.

“I believe higher education can be valuable, but there are plenty of trades where you can get a good income, if that’s what you want,” he said. “College was for me because I can’t do social work without a degree.

“I believe college can push you forward out of poverty, if you are forward-thinking enough, focused and going for the right reasons. Education can be a way to achieve that goal.”

Looking back, he is a bit amazed at how his family pulled together in those tough times.

“It was left to my mom to figure stuff out, and we got through it. Well, as Mom says, ‘By the grace of God we got through it,’” he said.

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