In 1990, Chantee Johnson graduated from high school and went to work to support herself. She always had it in the back of her mind to go back to school but never had the time.
In January of 2017, the time was right. After 21 years working at Food Lion, being passed over for many promotions, and feeling sorry for herself, Chantee weighed her options, quit her job, and walked onto the Brunswick Community College campus that February. A month later, she was enrolled in Dr. Kelley Evans’s DRE97 English Class. She was 44 years old.
Chantee describes herself at that time as “pitiful, just pitiful.” She didn’t know how to use a computer or construct a paragraph, and she didn’t think she’d make it. Fortunately, Evans referred her to the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) Lab. When not working with a tutor, Chantee stayed in the ACE practicing her keyboarding skills and struggling to get through her homework assignments.
Although there were days when the burden seemed too great for her, Chantee continued to make and keep her tutoring appointments. She worked with four different tutors for almost 10 hours during that eight-week class. While Chantee was “surprised” that the tutors were willing to give so much time to help her, the tutors were thrilled and inspired by her dedication to learning. She credits the encouragement she got from her tutors and teacher with getting her through the semester.
She says, “It was an overwhelming experience to complete that first class. This was something I’d been longing for, and now I have a feeling of hope and freedom.”
A year later, and Chantee has completed four classes and is enrolled in five this semester. She regularly visits the ACE and considers the tutors her support group. “I’m trying to become more independent,” she says, explaining that she plans to transfer to another school once she completes her Associates or Arts Degree. Her goal is a Bachelor’s in Social Services.
“I want to get into position to help others and give back to the community,” she says, adding, “There is another me out there, and the ACE needs to be there for her. It’s been a journey, but I love it!”
Editor’s note: This perspective was first published on the Brunswick Community College website. It has been posted with the author’s permission.Community Colleges NC Perspective