Last month, Yolanda Gonzalez graduated from Sampson Community College’s College and Career Readiness program and was a speaker at the commencement. On the same evening, Col. Edward Timmons, Director of Tarheel Challenge served as a guest speaker. The two had never met before. Today, they are coworkers.
“She was in shock after the ceremony,” says LaVoice Faison-Stevens, Director of the College and Career Readiness program at SCC. “She immediately came up to me and said Mrs. Stevens, you will not believe what just happened! Col. Timmons came up to me and offered me a position!” Just like that, the student who spoke at graduation about never giving up was offered a job.
“While we were on stage, I was extremely impressed with her,” said Col. Timmons. “First, she gave her speech in English, then repeated it in Spanish. To watch the faces light up in the audience was phenomenal!” So much so, that Timmons approached her and asked if she would be interested in being a case worker to help students at Tarheel Challenge. She immediately accepted.
Gonzalez began her journey in the fall of 2015, initially interested in enrolling in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. She then enrolled in Adult Basic Education courses instead. From that point, she continued with her classes until she obtained her High School Equivalency.
“They chose me because of my story, my struggles,” says Gonzalez. “I could barely speak English and my writing was terrible. I went to SCC to improve my English.” Graduation night was the first time she had ever met Col. Timmons. “He said he would like to talk to me about an opportunity. I was thinking I didn’t know if this was even real, we will see.”
Being college and career ready means that students graduate from the program prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary opportunities—whether college or career. Students who complete the program are prepared to transition into the college or career options of their choice.
“This position will open more up more opportunities for me,” says Gonzalez. “I am still in school and I plan on being a nurse one day. I can use this position to help me approach people and understand their needs and help them in any way possible.”
Editor’s note: This perspective first appeared on the Sampson Community College Viking Voice website. It has been posted with the author’s permission.