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Kyle Whalen & Josh Denney

It took 10 years, but on Dec. 14, Josh Denney, 31, finally received his Columbus State diploma. And it was his younger sister, Kyle (Denney) Whalen, who inspired him to fill out the paperwork to finally complete the process he began as a college student back in 2000.

Kyle, 28, a married mother of two, received her associate degree in Criminal Justice while her brother Josh, received his associate degree in Automotive Technology.

"When I started at Columbus State, Josh made a promise that meant the world to me and my family," says Kyle. "He said that if I did not give up and I finished my degree, he would finally complete the paperwork to collect his diploma that he had earned years ago."

Josh followed through on the promise and, a decade after completing all of his coursework for his program, he officially received his diploma on the same stage as his sister.

"It's always been in the back of mind, and I knew that if I ever lost my job my degree would be there," says Josh. "I am so proud of my sister and will gladly walk with her in support of her accomplishments."

Kyle says Josh's support, and the support of the rest of her family, has been invaluable. Josh works second shift at his job at Krieger Ford, then watches his son and Kyle's son.

"It has been rough at times, but I enjoy it," Josh says. "Most fathers and uncles aren't lucky enough to get to spend as much time with their kids as I do. We all seem to find a way to make it work."

Kyle chose Criminal Justice for two reasons:

"Reason one was because I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood and saw a lot of bad things. I wanted to contribute to whatever community I worked in," she says. "Also, I wanted to have a job that that my kids could be proud of, and there is a lot of pride in the criminal justice field."

Columbus State's Criminal Justice program offers degrees in Criminal Justice, Corrections, Law Enforcement and Police Academy. Automotive Tech offers degrees in Service Management, Maintenance & Light Repair, and specialized training in Ford products. Josh went through the Ford ASSET program, and those skills helped him land the job at Krieger Ford.