As a homeschool student who graduated high school early, Anna Marie Vagnozzi says Cleveland Community College seemed like the best way to pursue her passion for learning. At the age of 16 she says she didn't feel ready to make the jump to living away at a university, so she explored options that allowed her to continue her education with having to go too far from home. “The decision to attend CCC gave me the option of a smooth transition from home education to the classroom environment, while living at home with my family. The low-cost tuition, job opportunities, and financial assistance available also gave me the ability to begin saving for when I transfer to a four-year institution,” Vagnozzi explains.
Since becoming a CCC student, Vagnozzi says she's had so many wonderful opportunities to succeed and develop as an individual and that she quickly discovered that she thrived in a classroom environment, and loved being able to learn and apply knowledge of her coursework. She also says that she's been blessed with instructors who pushed her to excel, while also being surrounded by friends and classmates that encouraged her and kept her motivated through the years. “My experience at Cleveland has been nothing short of amazing! No matter what classes I was taking, I felt a deep sense of accomplishment knowing that I was able to take valuable knowledge and experiences away from each semester.” While at CCC, Vagnozzi also found her place in the Student Success Center as a work-study and tutor. She says she had the unique opportunity of working with both students and faculty, and that it is an experience she will be forever grateful for. “I plan to transfer to a four-year university in Fall 2014 to pursue a Bachelor's degree in mathematics education with the intention of later earning a Master's degree in mathematics. I chose this area largely due to my experience at CCC while working as a math tutor. I discovered that I love teaching and being able to help other students. My long-term goal is to teach math at the community college level so that I can help students have the same positive experience I have had.” As if attending classes and working in the Student Success Center weren't enough, Vagnozzi also serves as president of Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society for two-year college students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and serves as a senator for the Student Government Association. Vagnozzi says, “Being involved in a campus organizations has really put the ‘community' in community college for me; it's been a great way to connect with other students and make new friends outside of class. I also love being able to help with campus events and activities, and really enjoy being able to ‘give back' to CCC.”
It's obvious Vagnozzi has been extremely successful at Cleveland Community College when you consider that she will graduate in May 2014, with both an Associate in Science and Associate in Arts college transfer degree, and holds a perfect 4.0 grade point average. When asked how she did it she can't help but give all the credit to two key influences on her life: homeschooling and 4-H. “My mom was a wonderful teacher who made learning a fun and enjoyable experience rather than something ‘I had to do,' and by the time I reached high school, I was eager to learn independently outside of school as well as in it. I was always encouraged to achieve and take advantage of every opportunity I was blessed with throughout my childhood and teenage years.” Vagnozzi says her schooling reached far beyond the home and her involvement in the North Carolina 4-H youth development program also played a critical role in preparing her for college. “When I joined my local 4-H club at age eleven, I quickly became involved in a variety of activities that built character, communication and team work skills, and leadership abilities. Through these experiences, I learned valuable skills that have taken me far in my education and fostered my love of learning into a love of teaching, so that I can use these skills to touch others' lives.”