SCRANTON, PA, (December 14, 2016) — Penn Foster, a leading skills organization focused on providing competencies, career pathways and employment matching for today's evolving workforce, today announced its 2016 Graduate of the Year. Omar Haughton, a U.S. Army veteran who sustained and overcame a serious injury while deployed in Afghanistan, earned and uses his A.S. degree in Criminal Justice in his work with individuals with mild intellectual disabilities who have been incarcerated, teaching them how to adapt and reintegrate into their communities.
PHOTO: Penn Foster 2016 Graduate of the Year Omar Haughton (second from left) is surrounded by his grandmother, Mervin Hewitt, his mother, Larane Wilson and his brother, Dante Wilson, at a celebration honoring him in West Hills, CA on Dec. 11, 2016.
Haughton is an Army veteran who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. During nearly a two-year rehabilitation process, he discovered Penn Foster College and its Criminal Justice program. He used his Veteran's Administration benefits to begin online classes and earned his degree in Criminal Justice in May 2016. Shortly after graduating, Haughton got a job with Passport to Learning, where he works in the organization's Judicially Involved Support Services (JISS) division as a forensic adaptive living skills instructor. He combines his criminal justice knowledge with his personal experience to work with individuals with mild intellectual disabilities who have been recently released from jail.
"We couldn't be more proud to honor Omar Haughton as the Penn Foster 2016 Graduate of the Year," said Mark Slayton, Senior Vice President, Penn Foster. "Quite simply, Omar exemplifies everything we could look for in a successful student. He is bright, motivated, determined, disciplined and has taken a challenging situation and completely turned it to his advantage—and in turn, to the advantage of the clients with whom he works. Omar first served his country, and now he serves others. He is extraordinary."
Haughton's military career began when he enlisted in the California Army National Guard in 2009, where, concurrent with his Guard service, he spent three years with a vertical construction company in Oxnard, CA. While still in the Guard, Haughton deployed to Afghanistan with a Northern California bridging unit. While overseas, he served as a 50cal gunner, and in July 2012, was badly injured in combat by an IED, which caused a traumatic brain injury. He spent the remainder of 2012 and all of 2013 recuperating from his injuries. He returned to his original Guard unit in Oxnard in 2014, and joined the Army Reserve in late 2015. He will officially be separated from the military in early 2017 as an E-5 Sergeant.
"I'm very happy to receive this honor from Penn Foster," said Haughton. "Attending Penn Foster was a win-win for me. I was able to work on assignments when I could fit them in. As a busy dad providing for my family, the classes were a perfect fit for my schedule. Whether it was reading a chapter during my lunch break, or taking a test during the night while my daughter was sleeping, I always found time to get my work done. This degree wasn't only for me, it was for my daughter. When she grows older, I want her to be proud and know that her father is a degree holder."
About Penn Foster
Students, employers and partner organizations rely on Penn Foster to build the skills and knowledge to power the 21st century workforce. For over 125 years, Penn Foster has been dedicated to helping people lead more meaningful and productive lives and to improving social outcomes through education. Penn Foster provides career pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners through diverse and affordable online diploma, certificate and degree programs, offered via its high school, career school and college. With more than 30,000 graduates each year, Penn Foster's online and blended learning programs are delivered in a self-paced, competency-based model wrapped by comprehensive academic, professional and personal support and coaching. For more information, visit http://partners.pennfoster.edu/.