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Alumni Association

The Robeson Community College Alumni Association invites you to the upcoming Professional Development Series offered through the Human Resources Development Department.  The workshops, with dates and descriptions, are located on the right side of the attached flyer. There is NO FEE for those individuals meeting eligibility requirements.

The mission of the Robeson Community College Alumni Association is:

  • To provide a method for communication and interaction among Robeson Community College alumni, students, faculty and staff;
  • To actively participate, as alumni of the College, in campus activities and within the community as supporters of the College promoting the mission and values of Robeson Community College;
  • To provide philanthropic support to Robeson Community College and the Robeson Community College Foundation, Inc., assist in the recruitment and retention of students, and to assist with general development and advancement of Robeson Community College; and
  • To encourage and practice advocacy for the College in the business, industry, government, and community arenas.

The purpose of the Robeson Community College Alumni Association is:

  • To constitute an association of alumni with membership composed of graduates of Robeson Community College;
  • To support and advance the growth and development of the College; and
  • To promote the personal, educational, and professional development of its members, and to encourage mutually supportive relationships among alumni, students, the community, and the college.

To become a member of the Robeson Community College Alumni Association, you must be a graduate of Robeson Community College (degree, certificate, and diploma program). If you have a vested interest in the college and have been associated with Robeson Community College or the Robeson Community College Foundation, Inc., but do not meet the requirements to become a member, you can join the Alumni Association as an honorary member (must be approved by the Robeson Community College Foundation, Inc. Director).

Alumni Member Application

Honorary Alumni Member Application

You can also stay connected to us through the RCC Alumni Association Facebook page, follow us on twitter @RobesonAlumni and the Robeson Community College Alumni Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/rccalumni/  

Robeson Community College Alumni Executive Committee: 

President- Patricia Locklear

Immediate Past President – Tim Sampson

President-Elect-  Kristy Blue

Public Information Officer- Ashleigh Windley

Secretary-  Jessica Bullard

Recruiter- Angela Locklear

Foundation Director- (Ex-officio) Mrs. Jessica Bullard

Faculty Association Chair (Ex-officio)- Mrs. Loretta Allen

RCCAEOP President (Ex-officio)- Mrs. Sybil Boone

RCC SGA President (Ex-officio)- Ms. Keshena Butler

 ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

ALUMNI COUPLE’S LOVE PUSHES THEM TO NEW HEIGHTS

With a few days before Valentine’s Day, thoughts of love are in the air. For one couple in Robeson County, their love has produced 26 years of happiness, 4 degrees, 2 GED’s, 4 kids, and 3 grandkids, as they continue to push each other to new heights each and every day.

“And here we are,” laughed Percell Hunt.

“We are just two peas in a pod,” Jessie Hunt responded.

Jessie and Percell met each other in 1996 through a mutual friend when Jessie was 17 and Percell was 18.

“Percell happened to be there at that moment, and I guess it clicked, and we’ve been glued together ever since,” said Jessie.

A bond that is not easily broken, Jessie and Percell have worked hard to raise a family and provide a good life for themselves. Through good times and bad times, they’ve seen it through and never gave up on life.

Before meeting each other, the two had already dropped out of high school and were working full-time jobs.

“I just told my Dad one day, I don’t want to go back to school out there no more, and he said ‘son you’ve got two choices, you can either go to school or you can go to work.’ So that meant that I had an option, so I took option 2,” Percell said, as he reflected back on his past. “I quit school when I was 15, and the next day I was on the truck with my Dad doing construction work. That was the first day of my 10th-grade year.”

Percell had already been to working with his father on the weekends, on holidays, and during the summer breaks. As he says, “so it wasn’t like I didn’t know what I was doing on the job, it was easier because I knew what to expect, and to me when I went to school, I didn’t know what to expect. It was a terrible experience.”

“I didn’t ask for permission from anybody,” said Jessie. “I was putting in tobacco and going to school, so I just said that I was going to go to work and started doing it full-time. My father was a cucumber farmer, so I would have to pick cucumbers while I waited on the bus, eventually, he stopped doing cucumbers, and then he switched over to tobacco and I started putting in tobacco. That’s how I got money for my school clothes so, that I wouldn’t have to wear hand-me-downs.” 

“By the time we realized the importance of education, we were already grown. We struggled through times and having to raise a family, all we could do was think about work and paying bills,” said Jessie. “When you get older, it’s time to do better for yourself and make a change.”

Jessie did decide to make a change, one that started with completing her GED at Robeson Community College. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, it was a decision that would transform her life as she knew it.

“It all started because I was in competition with my children,” said Jessie. “I basically wanted to support them, but they got to the point where they disliked school, so I told them, I bet you that I can actually go back to school too and receive my GED and graduate before you. So, it was a competition at first.”

After passing all the tests needed to receive the GED, Jessie says the coordinators of the program coached her into coming to RCC to receive her associate’s degree in business administration.

“Our oldest son was getting ready to graduate high school and he wanted to go to a technical college, so I put forth the effort and said ‘ok’ and told him ‘I bet I’ll you beat you graduating from college,’ so that is when I actually came out to the college,” Jessie stated. “I loved the experience, it made me feel a little bit younger. Even though I knew some of the programs, I didn’t know the terminology so it helped me be more professional with the terminology that they used.”

Jessie ended up losing the bet though. Her son actually finished college before she did, but only by 4 months.

“He beat me to the punch,” Jessie said as she laughed.

During the course of all that, Percell was still working in construction. So, Jessie says she became a “nagging wife.”

“I told him basically that he had his hurts and backaches and I told him that when you reach a certain age, it’s time to give up on certain things, and change careers, where you don’t have to do that rough work.”

“I started having problems with my back, I couldn’t do the job that I enjoyed no more,” said Percell. “So, when it came time and I couldn’t do construction work no more, she was like ‘well why don’t you go back to school.’”

“It was a struggle for me because obviously I was 40 years old, and I did not want to go back to school, so she kept on and on and for about 6 months,” said Percell. “I was just sitting around the house thinking about it, and the whole time she did kind of nag me and I was like, well, ok, I said ‘if you’ll pay for me to just walk in and take the test, then I’ll go take the test,’ because I didn’t want to take any classes, and she actually paid for me to take the test.”

Percell says he studied for about a week or two, took the test, and received his GED.

“Then she said, ‘well whatcha gonna do now?’”

“So, I thought ‘I haven’t given it any thought, I got the GED, that’s what you wanted.’ And so, then she was like, ‘why don’t you go to school and get a degree,’ and I was like, ‘well then, that means I would have to go to school,” Percell said laughing. “She kept getting on me about getting a degree, so I said ‘if you’ll do the paperwork and get my financial aid, I’ll go back and give it a try.’ She did all my paperwork and I started at RCC in January 2018.”

Ironically, Percell says that he came to RCC to get one degree, but ended up with two.

“I came for the associate degree in support and services, but my last semester out here, my advisor told me ‘If you take just one more class, you can graduate with two degrees.’ And I didn’t want to take another class, to be honest about it, but I thought since I’ve got to come out here for the other classes anyway, why not, so he signed me up for one more class.”

In 2020, Percell graduated with a degree in support and services and a degree in network management.

Although it was hard going to school full-time and working, Jessie says it all eventually paid off.

“Our kids can see by our example and the changes that have happened since we went back to school. We both have better jobs and they’ve seen the progress that we’ve made,” said Jessie.

“One daughter is going to college to become a mid-wife, one is attending RCC in the culinary program, our son who got a certification in welding is working at Elkay, and our other son finished high school at the same time Percell graduated college and he is thinking about coming out to RCC, so they see the importance of education,” said Jessie.

Jessie herself has completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration management from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, continuing to set the bar high and be a role model for those around here.

“If you want to do it, go ahead and do it, get that education under your belt then you can do great things,” stated Jessie.

“I have to admit it was one of the best decisions that I made to actually listen to my wife and come back to school,” said Percell. “Now that I’ve got my degree, I can see it was a benefit for me to come back and go through that process, it was beneficial to get my GED and it was beneficial to get my degree.” 

“There’s a lot of our friends and family and they are like, ‘I can’t believe you went back to school and you graduated with 2 degrees, and up until November of last year I had never had a driver’s license,” said Percell, showing just how transformational his life has been since receiving his GED. “The guys would pick me up for work, and Jessie would drive me wherever I needed to go, so I didn’t need one.”

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find Jessie and Percell both working at Robeson Community College full-time. Jessie works in the Financial Aid department as a financial aid specialist, and Percell works in the IT department as a PC Technician.

“It was a big leap for me because I’m used to factories and just working hard. He’s used to working outside in all kinds of weather in construction,” said Jessie.

Getting the jobs at RCC required a few new experiences for Percell and Jessie.

“I never had to interview for a job, it was the first interview I ever had in my life. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to feel. The only thing I knew was to do the best that I could do,” said Percell. “What made it so bad was I had been working with the IT department for 2 years as a work-study, so all these people that I was sitting there interviewing with, I had interactions with them before.”

Jessie chimed in and said, “Percell was a nervous wreck!”

“All my interviews, the guy was like can you run a drill and swing a hammer, I was like ‘yeah’ and he was like, ‘you got a job’… I hope it doesn’t happen, but if I ever have another interview, I kind of know what to expect.”

It was Jessie’s first interview too.

“Usually when you go out and get a blue-collar job, you go out there and it’s ok, when can you start. Nothing about your past experiences or where do you see yourself,” said Jessie. “When I got the news that I got an interview, I was ecstatic, I had been working out here for 6 years as a work-study and part-time, so to get the opportunity, I was just ecstatic.”

She continued by saying, “I just love working out here and encountering students… I hope to be here at RCC for a long time until I go into retirement, but I’m hoping to be able to grow old gracefully and just enjoy the rest of my years, to progress, and to be better than what we are now.

For Percell, becoming a PC Technician was the perfect job for him.

“I enjoy being able to go out and work with faculty and staff across campus. I like the fact that I’m not tied to my office where I have to sit here and I’m on the computer all day. I like being able to get up and go take care of a ticket, walk around campus and talk with people,” he said.

“I never, never, never ever thought I’d end up working at a college. I never thought it would happen, I just couldn’t see myself doing anything like that,” said Percell, who is planning on going back to school again to complete his bachelor’s degree. “Twenty years ago, if you had said anything about school, I would have probably walked off, that’s how bad of an experience I had, now for me to actually be working in education and at an educational institution, it is really good, I would encourage anybody to give it a try.”

RCC ALUMNI TOMAS PEREZ NAMED 2021 ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE WINNER

When Tomas Perez arrived in America eight years ago, he had no idea of the future that awaited him. He had always dreamed of going to college and getting a degree, but with limited English skills and limited funds, those dreams seemed as though they would never come true.

 “I would work all day and then come home,” said Tomas who worked at Prestage Foods in St. Pauls. “That was my routine.”

 Tomas thought about college often, and even tried to get into one college, but was denied admissions. But, Tomas didn’t let that rejection get him down, saying, “I always wanted to be a college student.” 

 Tomas discovered Robeson Community College in 2019, and it was truly a turning point in his life.

 “My first day at RCC was on August 19, 2019. It was the beginning of my dream to go to college and to pursue high-quality education.”

 Tomas enrolled in the associate of science program at RCC and just two years later on May 12, 2021, he crossed the finish line as an official graduate. But on that day, not only did he receive his degree, he was also named the North Carolina Community College 2021 Academic Excellence Award winner. 

 It was a major accomplishment and honor for Tomas, to say the least. Only one student from each of the 58 community colleges in North Carolina receives the award. Each winner receives a plaque and medallion in honor of their academic accomplishments. 

 “I was stunned. I didn’t expect to win that. I was very surprised when they announced my name at graduation. It was very emotional for me.”

 When Tomas began his academic studies, he says that could barely understand or speak English.  “Now I am here, I am a college graduate. Undeniably, RCC has been responsible for all these positives changes in my life.”

 It wasn’t easy for Tomas in making the transition to becoming a college student. The language barriers at times made it very difficult for him.

 “Very often I felt terribly lost trying to master a new language, socially awkward trying to make new friends, and emotionally exhausted trying to make sense of so many confusing experiences,” stated Tomas. “But, over the past two years at RCC, I truly have learned so many valuable skills. This institution has helped me strengthen my capabilities and attain my career goals.”

 RCC is where Tomas not only received his degree but also where he discovered his love of science. One of his favorite classes was Anatomy and Physiology. 

 “I’m very interested in health-related work,” said Tomas, who hopes to become a nurse. “I am going to transfer to Fayetteville State University in the fall and get my BSN.”

 Tomas says that getting an education has helped him far beyond the classroom, saying that he now feels he “will be able to face unexpected challenges head-on.” 

 He encourages others who may not know English to not give up, that they too can achieve success just as he has done. 

 “Don’t just go to work and go home. That was my routine. If you want a better life, education is one of the key steps to make that happen.”

 

THE BRIDGE FROM PARAMEDIC TO RN: CIERRA LOCKLEAR’S JOURNEY

Student with GurneyYou never know where one class will lead you or the doors that it may open. For Pembroke native Cierra Locklear, one class has forever helped chart her path and career in healthcare.

Cierra started her college career at Robeson Community College while in high school through Career and College Promises classes. She says that is when she discovered her love for emergency medical science and public safety.

“I took EMT 1 and then EMT 2 at the Career Center,” Cierra told as she thought about her high school career.

After taking the tests and passing the State Board exams, Cierra graduated from high school in 2015 as an EMT Basic and immediately began working in the field. During that time, Cierra enrolled in the EMS program at Robeson Community College. She chose to pursue the 2-year transfer AAS-to-BS degree in EMS.

“I loved RCC, and I loved going to the classes there. It was a great experience. I learned something new every day,” said Cierra. “Attending RCC, and taking that first EMT class in high school, ultimately changed my life.”

Cierra praises her instructors at RCC and says that they made the difference by taking her under their wings and guiding her through the EMS program.

“They made the program fun and interesting with real-life scenarios where you had to do search and rescue efforts and perform medical procedures on the patient… I learned so much. I cannot say enough good things about them or the program.”

After earning her associate of applied science in EMS in 2017, Cierra transferred to Western Carolina University. She entered the university with 60 transferrable credits and completed a bachelor’s of science degree in 2020.

“Living on campus was a different experience. I got to meet a lot of new people and I really enjoyed my time in Cullowhee,” said Cierra. “Attending RCC was a big stepping stone for me, but it prepared me to go off to college.”

She added, “I needed the extra push to go to a 4-year college and I received that at RCC.”

Cierra believes that it’s always good to have your education to go with your experience, and now she has both, having worked as a volunteer with several rescue squads and fire departments since she was just 16 years old, saving lives and making a difference in her community, as well as the several years of experience she has obtained working as an EMT.

“I love helping people,” Cierra added. “All the volunteering that I did when I was young helped me get used to going on 911 calls.”

Now at the age of 24, Cierra is employed full-time as a certified paramedic in Robeson County transporting patients and assisting on 911 emergency phone calls as needed for the county.

Coming full circle, Cierra now finds herself back at the place where it all started and will be attending RCC again this fall to obtain another credential – a nursing degree – through the Paramedic to RN bridge program that was established in 2019. This program is an advanced placement option for certified paramedics to obtain an associate’s degree in nursing. Upon completion of the program, graduates are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

“I have always wanted to be a nurse,” said Cierra. “I’m so excited about coming back.”

Cierra is thankful for the path that she has taken because she already has gained so much knowledge in the health profession, which she hopes will be an asset to her as she goes into the nursing program.

“EMS is a forever-changing career,” said Cierra. “Coming back to do the bridge program to get my RN is another stepping stone… I want to see where this will take me.”

After completing the bridge program, Cierra says that she may continue her education so that she can eventually obtain her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. She is also considering becoming a traveling nurse.

“I wouldn’t mind traveling and seeing the world,” said Cierra. “Becoming a travel nurse would allow me to do that, but we will see what the future holds.”

SISTERS GRADUATE TOGETHER, EARN ASSOCIATES DEGREES AT RCC

When Caitlin Smith started her studies in 2019 at Robeson Community College, she had no idea that in a few years she would be graduating at the same time as her sister, Erin Smith.

“I never thought we would finish together,” said Caitlin who is two years older than her sister.  “But it’s sweet, I am so proud to see her graduate.”

Erin echoes those same sentiments, saying “It’s really awesome that we went to the same school, I’m glad that she did something that she is very passionate about.”

Erin had started attending RCC a year earlier than Caitlin in 2018. She wasn’t sure of what to major in until her Mom, Sheila Smith who just happens to be the Director of the Nurse Aide program at RCC, told her about the Radiography program that was available.

“I was always interested in healthcare,” said Erin. “When my Mom told me about the program, I did job shadowing before I actually started, and I really enjoyed it.”

 

In 2019, Erin started the Radiography program and has now completed the requirements for an associate of applied science degree in that field. She plans on continuing her studies this summer and fall at RCC to obtain another credential that will qualify her to work in Computed Tomography Scans or more commonly known as CT scans.

“I plan on getting a job in x-ray or CT,” Erin stated as she looks towards the future.

Caitlin has also completed an associate of applied science, but her degree is in cosmetology.

“I always wanted to do hair ever since I was 15 years old, I just fell in love with it,” proclaimed Caitlin.

Caitlin has already become employed at a salon and is now calling North Myrtle Beach home.

“I had a great opportunity to come down here. The owner said that she would train me on everything that I needed to know,” Caitlin shared.

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Caitlin credits her quick ability to gain employment to the quality of education that she received from the instructors she had in the cosmetology program.

 “I had heard that the cosmetology instructors were awesome, so I went and I found it to be very true, they are some of the best.”

Caitlin and Erin both chose RCC because it was in their hometown of Lumberton, but also because of the value they received.

“The price is great,” said Erin.

As for advice that they would offer other students, Erin says “Definitely be patient in class. Definitely study. Be outgoing. Ask questions. Study hard.”

 “And you have got to be willing to learn,” adds Caitlin. “It is hard work, it is a lot of hard work.”

Erin has hopes of getting a job in Fayetteville working in a hospital or for an orthopedic office. She might even consider taking a job in Myrtle Beach to be closer to her sister and have a chance to live along the coast.

“I would love it if we could live together here,” said Caitlin, who hopes to one day open up her own salon. “I have no set plans, but that’s a goal of mine.”

 

RCC ALUM BARBARA DEAL’S FIGHT TO ACHIEVE HER DREAMS

For Barbara Deal, graduation from Robeson Community College is more than just a milestone, it is a celebration of life and of overcoming adversity to achieve her dreams.  

“I just got my GED in 2018,” she begins. “I just wanted to make something of myself, I dropped out of high school when I was 15 years old…I was just young and I was hanging out with the wrong people.”

Dropping out of high school was a decision Barbara regrets to this day, and wishes she could go back in time to change. “I tell young people, don’t give up on school, stay in school, get your education, you’ll miss out on all the good things if you drop out like me.”  

After working in different factories off and on, and raising four children, Barbara decided it was time to go back to school to fulfill a dream that she’s had since she was 14. 

“I always wanted to do something for homeless people,” Barbara said. “I want to learn how to read blueprints and build tiny houses for homeless people.” 

Immediately after earning her GED, Barbara started on her journey to earn her associate’s degree in August 2018. Things were going well for Barbara until the summer of 2019 when she started to notice a decline in her health. Doctors found a mass on her kidney and little did she know that just a few months later, her life would be changed forever.  

“I was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer in December 2019.”

With a devastating diagnosis, it would have been easy for Barbara to just quit, and no one would have blamed her for doing so, but she persevered and set her focus on her degree. 

“It was difficult. Some days I would feel bad, but I pushed myself and just kept going. I knew that I could feel just as bad at home, so I just acted like nothing was wrong.” 

In many ways, being in school has helped Barbara stay motivated. She loved her teachers and interacting with her classmates. It was a great opportunity for her to learn about new subjects, like astronomy, which quickly became one of her favorite classes. 

“I loved getting to learn about the stars and planets. You can see them and it is like you are right there,” Barbara said in amazement. “I loved learning about the stuff that you never really think about.” 

Throughout it all, Barbara has not missed a day of school or a day of tutoring. She has remained faithful, vigilant, and determined. She has made mostly A’s and B’s, with a few C’s here and there. Her name has been listed on the honor roll a few times, and on May 12, 2021, she will walk across the stage to receive her college degree and graduate with her associate of arts, a dream she has been waiting to come true for over 40 years.  

“You have to be a light to your children and grandchildren. I tell them, ‘Grandma is a fighter and a pusher. That’s what you have to be if you want to be somebody.’” 

Today at the age of 59, Barbara is making plans to attend North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. She hopes to be enrolled this fall to major in Architecture to fulfill her ultimate dream of building houses for those in need. 

“If you’ve got goals and want to go back to school, you can do it,” Barbara said. “Is it hard? Yeah, it is, just don’t give up, don’t ever give up on your dreams.”