Memories of being dragged from a badly wrecked car and being told that her legs would likely have to be amputated helps explain why Luella Wilburn, 54, is one of a record 6,000 students taking summer classes at Anne Arundel Community College.
For Wilburn, who proved her doctors wrong by walking again, studying toward a degree in philosophyat AACC keeps her going. They also keep her mind off the 1981 accident, legs that have been rebuilt with metal, hands that are still difficult to close and facial scars from windshield glass.
Seated in the air-conditioned lower level of the community college library yesterday, she seemed oblivious to the steamy hot weather outside. Her mind was completely focused on the composition she is completing for an English class at the college.
"I'm one of the olderstudents, but I'm proud of myself," Wilburn said. "I've been gettingpretty good grades here. I fear some times having to go back to a wheelchair, but I just want to get my piece of paper."
Although mostof her classmates are younger and without the physical problems to overcome, Wilburn is hardly alone on the Arnold campus this summer.
AACC officials report that students are taking advantage of summer courses -- mostly concentrated offerings of required subjects -- at a record level, with over 500 more people enrolled than last year.
Bill G. Clutter, the college's dean of continuing education and extended learning programs, said the increase has not caught him completelyoff guard.
The campus has seen a steady growth in the number of students, particularly between the ages of 18 and 21. AACC's 234creditcourses, offered by 200 faculty members, are full this summer.
"Our reasoning is that the increase is because of escalating costs of attending four-year universities," said Clutter, noting it costs considerably less to attend a community college. "It's convenient to take these courses in the summer, and all of the courses are perfectly transferable. A lot of them attend elsewhere and come home for the summer and take courses here."
Nineteen-year-old Melissa Lewis is a perfect example of Clutter's profile of summer students. The Pasadena resident is a junior at Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa. While sheis home for the summer, she is hoping to change her D in calculus toan A.
Karl Ervin, 27, an Annapolis resident, also is trying to get through the math course, except he is a full-time student at the college. Both are majoring in biology.
"I'm taking this so I'll be able to take physics in the fall," Ervin said. "Calculus is a prerequisite.
"I think it's an unusually high number of people here," he added. "Our class is packed. We have to have at least 30 people in there."
The college has seen a demand for liberal arts courses, including English, math, science and computer science, during the three summer terms. The total summer enrollment so far is 6,014, compared to 5,530 last year. The final summer term begins Tuesday.
Enrollment in non-credit courses is sizable as well, with 17,600 students takingsuch courses as art, word processing and cooking. But most summer students are attempting to master their most difficult subjects during the Monday-through-Thursday classes.
"It's a lot of hard work, butthere's no chance of playing around," Wilburn said. "I like the paceduring the summer."