Robeson Community College

Robeson CC Today article on Kenneth Jackson

Ex-dropout excels in academics at RCC


Photo of student Kenneth Jackson

Kenneth Jackson
According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 59 percent of freshmen who began a four-year degree in 2007 had completed that degree six years later in 2013. This May, Kenneth Jackson will have gone from being a high school dropout to having earned an associate degree in Computer Information Technology at Robeson Community College in less than two years.

When asked if he’s thought about transferring to a four-year university for further study, Kenneth says he has considered taking night classes towards a four-year degree while he works, but he surprises even himself as he says that.

“To begin with I didn’t even think I would go to a two-year college,” he said.

Kenneth started high school in St. Pauls in 2006 and should have graduated in 2010, but dropped out of the 11th grade.

“I just lost interest in going,” he said. “The first couple of years I was a good student, but I lost interest and my grades dropped.”

Kenneth’s grandfather owned a trucking company, so he went to work doing odd jobs for his grandfather. He worked on computers and the trucks in his grandfather’s business.

“Just stuff for me to make money,” Kenneth said, because at age 16, he was not old enough to drive commercial trucks.

Kenneth tried at 18 to get a “real job,” because his grandfather retired and closed the trucking business. Kenneth worked at Wal-Mart for a while and did a lot of little jobs here and there, but nothing that seemed to have career potential.

Through a temporary employment agency, he worked for a large manufacturer in Fayetteville for a few weeks and decided that factory work was not for him.

“At that point I decided to go back to school to do something that I wanted to do,” he said.

He had already tried high school equivalency classes at night through Robeson Community College shortly after dropping out of high school, and thought he would return and get a diploma.

When he met Terry Jackson, transition coordinator for Robeson Community College’s College and Career Readiness, in the summer of 2014, Terry laid out an alternate and bigger plan. Terry convinced Kenneth that he was smart enough to go to college and suggested that he take the GED test that summer and enroll in college classes for the fall.

Kenneth left Robeson Community College that day and studied for a week. He returned and successfully completed two of the required tests for the GED. One week later he returned, successfully completed the other two tests, and registered for fall college classes.

Kenneth recently was selected as Robeson Community College’s Academic Excellence award winner. Every year, one student from each of the 58 community colleges in the state is selected as an Academic Excellence Honoree. To be eligible for the award, students must be currently enrolled, have completed at least 12 semester hours in an associate degree program and have a cumulative grade-point average of no less than 3.25.

Each student receives a plaque and medallion in honor of their academic accomplishments. Each year, Robeson’s award winner is recognized at the May curriculum graduation ceremony.

One of the first instructors Kenneth met in the fall of 2014 had high praise for him.

“He’s an extraordinary student,” said James Bass. “A couple of semesters after Kenny completed my class, he responded to a question I posted on Facebook about how to replace a battery in a specific make of vehicle by coming to my house and helping me replace the battery.”

Computer Technology instructor and Faculty Association President Clifton Oxendine echoed Bass’ assessment.

“He’s a hard worker in class,” Oxendine said. “He’s dedicated to doing his best in class. That dedication shows in his GPA.”

Oxendine and Jackson share an interest in video games.

“He’s the same person playing video games as he is in class,” Oxendine said. “He’s just an all-around good guy. He’s the type of student that community colleges were built to serve.”

If you think you or someone you know is the type of student Robeson Community College was built to serve, give us a call at 910-272-3342, or drop by and talk with someone in our admissions office.

Dennis Watts is the public information officer for Robeson Community College.