College News

Barton Community College celebrates graduates’ success at Fort Leavenworth commencement

two graduates in caps and gowns mother and daughter posing for photo
Dawn Gazell (left) and Abigail Gazell take time out of their graduation ceremony preparation to pose for a photo Wednesday afternoon outside of the Lewis and Clark Building at Fort Leavenworth.

June 8, 2023
Story and photo by Joe Vinduska 

Dawn Gazell and her daughter Abigail will always be connected as family members, but after they walked across the stage on Wednesday afternoon at the Education Consortium’s Commencement Ceremony at the Lewis and Clark Center on Fort Leavenworth, they also now share the connection of being graduates of Barton Community College.

The duo enrolled at Barton together in June 2022. They’re both part of a multigenerational military family and have traversed the globe together their entire lives, so it was fitting that they embarked on their educational journey in tandem. Both students had some college experience, but they really found their focus at Barton.

Dawn said she took Dr. Ann Ingala’s “Coping with Stress” class for personal growth and soon discovered a love for psychology.

“My time at Barton has been pleasantly surprising,” she said. “Dr. Ingala’s psychology courses opened my eyes to the possibility of pursuing a career in this field. I had developed a belief that I was too old to return to school or begin a career that was completely different from my previous education. Watching Abigail achieve her goals and blossom during her time here has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. The passionate pursuit of her dream has given me the confidence to pursue mine.”

Dawn plans to complete her bachelor’s in psychology and then continue with her master’s degree in social work at George Mason University (GMU) and feels that social work is her true calling. She is interested in working with children, military families, and marginalized communities. Abigail will also finish her education at GMU and plans to explore a career that focuses on advocacy, social justice, and human rights law.

Dawn said the experience of going to school with her daughter was very fulfilling.

“I thoroughly enjoyed spending both in-class and study time with my daughter,” she said. “We laughed, shared deep conversations about the subjects we were studying, and spent many hours practicing our presentations and speeches with one another. In fact, I discovered that she is a keen observer and excellent at providing feedback. If I ever needed an honest critique of my work, she was always there with the most insightful suggestions. Being classmates has allowed me to see the remarkable young woman that she has become, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

Although they have moved their tassels to the left and are moving on to the next step, Dawn said their time at Barton was very productive.

“Our Barton experience would not have been complete without the support of our fellow classmates and instructors,” she said. “Special thanks to Ann Ingala and Jess Fullen. Your compassionate leadership and commitment to education have guided us to our ‘true north.’ For this and countless other lessons, we are eternally grateful. Finally, thank you, Barton, for offering the LSEC program to the military community. You are truly changing lives.”

The Gazells were part of a group of 18 students who graduated for the 2022-2023 school year, with 16 participating in the ceremony. The Barton students were part of a larger celebration Wednesday afternoon that included students from other colleges that offer classes on-base. The Barton students completed associate in arts, associate in science, associate in general studies, and associate in applied science degrees.

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