Sarah Harvey-Toth will always treasure Mother’s Day. Not only because she is a mother herself, and of course she loves her own mother, but it is an annual reminder of a day that changed her life forever.
On Mother’s Day weekend in 2012, her mother saw her receive her associate’s degree from Weatherford College, which helped launch Harvey-Toth into her career as a small business owner.
"My father had passed away in a car wreck in 2009 and left my mom in a state of depression, and left her and me to care for my kid sisters. So after the dark years, when I finished, I didn't want to shine any light on myself, but my mom thought it was the best news in the world," Harvey-Toth said. "So when she found out that graduation actually fell on Mother’s Day weekend, she said that the only gift she wanted was to see me walk the stage, and how great would it be to have my son see me walk the stage also."
Now, Harvey-Toth owns a pair of businesses in Granbury, where she was born and raised. She owns Narrow Escape Rooms and Cool Junk Antique Store.
Harvey-Toth first attended WC in 2005 on a TRIO program scholarship. Then, as she said, "Life happened, and I quit school to live life."
In 2011, while pregnant, she decided to return to school with a promise to finish her degree before her son was born. She almost made it, finishing the final two classes on the Granbury campus as a night school student.
Harvey-Toth celebrates National TRIO Day each year, a day of celebration, reflection and action around increased access to higher education for disadvantaged students. Federal TRIO Programs help low-income and first-generation students enter college and earn a college degree.
Among her favorite memories from WC, she said, was a field trip to the Kimbell Art Museum with WC’s legendary—and now retired—art professor Myrlan Coleman.
"We were all freshmen and barely knew each other,” she said. “It was a summer program where you live in the dorms and take the same classes as a group. We all grew so close.
"It was at Weatherford College in the fine arts center that I was really able to hone my passion for my craft. I still keep in touch with several professors and also with the former TRIO director, who became like my big sister as the years passed."
Along with running her businesses, Harvey-Toth is working on a business degree from Western Governors University.
"But, with having three young children and two businesses I only take a class at a time, as I can,” she said. “I am in no big rush.”
While COVID-19 has had an effect on her businesses, along with many others. Harvey-Toth nonetheless has big plans for the future. She said they are adding an arcade to their escape room enterprise.
As for WC, she said it and that special day eight years ago will also be dear to her heart.
"I never wanted to leave WC. I loved it there. It was a second family. I took so many extra classes that I didn't have to take, because I wanted to learn as much as I could before I moved on," she said. "I still think about taking additional classes at WC from time to time, maybe when my youngest starts grade school I will go back."
by Rick Mauch