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I’ve always been proud to call North Carolina home.
As I thought about college, I never considered going to school outside of North Carolina. Both my parents were teachers and worked second jobs. My dad was the night manager at a retail store while my mom sold makeup. Money wasn’t abundant, so I knew a private or out-of-state college was most likely out of the question. And really, with the numerous higher education institutions in North Carolina, there was no reason to go another route.
When I was a freshman in high school, my sister started attending college at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Helping her move into the freshman dorm was my first experience on a large public campus, and I loved it. From that moment, I couldn’t wait to get to college myself.
I contemplated many North Carolina Universities when it was time for me to make a decision. My top three choices were the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and N.C. State University. I received an academic scholarship to N.C. State so decided on that school. My best friend and I went to college together. We’d always been close, but our time in Raleigh strengthened our friendship even further. Together, we studied, learned, and grew as women. We’re best friends to this day. I was also fortunate enough to make the N.C. State Marching Band as a majorette. This is a fun throwback photo of another twirler and myself. Working with the band while also attending school was a great lesson in time management and discipline.
It was during my time at N.C. State working at a summer day camp when I realized I wanted to work with children in some capacity. Prior to that, I’d been majoring in psychology with no specification, but once I realized how much I enjoyed kids, I decided to go on to graduate school after undergrad and major in school psychology.
I attended graduate school at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. We had a very close cohort of 10 girls. We came from all parts of the country and knew no one prior to arriving. Throughout our three years in the program, we grew closer and became a support system for one another. It was during this time when I learned what it meant to have a “tribe”. Since then, I’ve always surrounded myself with passionate, driven women who inspire and challenge me.
In the past, I’ve taken my two little boys to visit N.C. State University. We love taking photos in front of the Bell Tower. The photo below was taken when my younger son (now age 7) was only six-months old).
More recently, I took my two little boys, ages 10 and 7, to visit Appalachian State University. We had a great time frolicking in downtown Boone and exploring the campus.
I think it’s important to take children and adolescents to various college campuses when they are young. This allows them to start formulating thoughts about where they may want to attend college one day.
In my opinion, college is an integral component of a young person’s life. It’s a wonderful “shoulder season” that allows young people to develop social, educational and adult skills that will affect them forever.
North Carolina higher education works. It is not only grounded and reputable in history, but it’s a strong economic driver for the state. We must keep North Carolina higher education systems well-funded, affordable and accessible so that North Carolinians can get valuable higher education credentials. We must be diligent in our efforts! Our action ensures our higher education systems remain among the best in the nation.
In fact, North Carolina is one of three states with a unique constitutional mandate requiring the North Carolina General Assembly to provide all citizens with affordable higher education. The constitution reads; “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of the University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”
With the ever-changing landscape of technology, it’s hard to know what jobs will exist or evolve over the next decade, but it’s a guarantee that candidates with a post-secondary education will out-leverage those with only a high school degree. North Carolina’s higher education system is incredible. As someone who experienced it herself, I can vouch for its quality and integrity. North Carolina’s amazing postsecondary institutions help citizens attain their education.
As citizens, we must support our higher education system in an effort to make secondary schooling affordable and accessible to all people. Register for the weekly newsletter and connect with Higher Ed Works on Twitter to stay informed.