2019 Academic Excellence Award

Robeson Community College Academic Excellence Award recipient Robert Villanueva

From South Carolina to Afghanistan and back a time or two, I’ve spent the last ten years running away from where I was raised.

Growing up in Huntington, West Virginia, I was never expected to go to college, nor did anyone in my life ever attempt to prepare me for it.

I am honored to be nominated for the North Carolina Community College Academic Excellence Award on behalf of Sandhills Community College (SCC). I would not have been able to succeed without the support of my SCC family. Prior to coming to SCC, I earned my A.A.S.

I originally enrolled in South Piedmont Community College in 2011 after transferring from UNC Charlotte. At the time I was 20 years old, living on my own, and working two to three jobs at a time to support myself. The financial burden began to weigh on me over time.

Through Whiteville High School’s College and Career Promise program, I am able to take college courses of my choosing and receive both high school and college credit for them.

Matthew was born and raised in the town of Metairie, Louisiana-just outside New Orleans. Shortly after graduating high school in 2004, he joined the United States Marine Corps.

Attending Surry Community College has been the best choice I could have made. After graduating from high school, I was not yet sure of my future path or ready to leave home. These last two years at Surry have instilled a confidence in me that will continue pushing me to strive for my goals.

As a Cherokee County native, I knew after graduating from high school that I didn’t want to have to travel far from my lifelong home and family to continue my education.

As a Franklin County Early College High School student, Hope has been a member of the Vance-Granville Community College family for five years. The obstacle Hope has had to overcome most of her life, especially in the last few years, is her father’s long battle with illness.

When I was young, I wanted to be important and successful. I would spend hours imagining myself in a business meeting or wearing my father’s suit. I understand now what I did not back then. Success comes from persistence and resilience. I came to the U.S. from Brazil to work as a bellman.

Estefani is an extraordinarily gifted student and an outstanding member of the school and local community. Estefani participated in the 2018 Summer Biomedical Research Program at ECU, conducting research on skin cancer.

Wilkes Community College Academic Excellence Award recipient Aaron Thomas Clark

While in eighth grade, I chose to attend Wilkes Early College High School, a dual-enrollment program through Wilkes Community College (WCC).

Charles White is Cleveland Community College’s 2017 Academic Excellence Award winner.

Brittany Whitaker is an Associate in Science student planning to graduate in spring 2017. She aims to transfer to UNC-Charlotte or University of South Carolina to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology or exercise science.

One of the pioneers of the Community College movement in North Carolina, Dr. Jeff Hockaday was instrumental in laying the foundation for the North Carolina Community College System that we have today.   Dr.

My name is Najma Hasan and I am proud to be a student in the prestigious nursing program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. It is a challenging program, but I am working very hard. Today, I know my future is bright. But it didn't always look so bright.

Attending at Edgecombe Community College has been a wonderful experience for me.

Over the years I have been blessed with many exciting opportunities in my life and chances to lead and inspire others.

Lena Effler began her education journey at McDowell Technical Community College in 2011.  For her it has been a long road, but says that it was well worth it in the end.  Getting married after high school at eighteen, Effler decided to get a job and raise her son.  Everything in Effler's life see

"I don’t know yet. I just want to help people!" I told the career coach instead of admitting that I had always wanted to be a family physician. That childhood dream seemed unreachable.