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Make 2024 the Year of Your Success at Robeson Community College, 23+ stories of student success stories from 2023

It’s a new year, and 2024 can be the year of a new you! When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, what will your New Year’s resolutions be?

 If your resolution is to earn a degree, get a better job, gain new skills, or learn a new trade, then Robeson Community College can help you in reaching those goals in 2024

“Make 2024 the year of your success,” RCC President Melissa Singler said. “Give yourself the gift of education in the new year.”

Education comes in all forms, from short-term training that lasts from a few days to more formal programs with lectures and labs filled with hands-on training. RCC offers something for everyone from free small business workshops and adult high school classes, to two year curriculum programs that lead to earning an associate degree, diploma, or certificates.  

Robeson Community College offers a plethora of opportunities. For anyone interested in becoming a student at Robeson Community College, registration will be open on January 2, 3, 4, and 5.

 Curriculum classes will begin on January 8. The schedule can be found here:

New continuing education classes will start throughout the semester and the schedule can be found at this link:

If you need some inspiration to get started on your journey, just take a look at these 23 success stories of 2023 from students who attended Robeson Community College. Just think, your story might make headlines in 2024. Start your journey today at

Stories are listed chronologically in the order they were published.

Jose Chavez, Melissa Elliott, Charissa Smith, and Ashley Owens

Taking just one continuing education class at Robeson Community College could change your life forever as four students recently discovered, after completing the community health worker training.

The four – Jose Chavez, Melissa Elliott, Charissa Smith, and Ashley Owens – were recently selected through a highly competitive process to serve as ambassadors for the North Carolina Community Health Worker Association (NCCHWA).

In total 6 individuals from across the state were named ambassadors.

Read full story here: Continuing education students chosen as Ambassadors for NC Association | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Artie Stewart and Fanina Stewart

Meet Artie and Fanina Stewart. They both know a lot about life and the struggles that can come with it, but they also know a lot about faith, hope, and love, of which they say the greatest is love.

The two met each other at church, a divine connection you could say. Artie had been through a divorce, and Fanina was a single mother who had never been married. The two had all but given up on finding true love, both telling God if they were to ever marry, that God would have to send them their mate.

And so, God did just that. As they say, God works in mysterious ways.

Not long after they married, the two decided to go back to school to get their degrees. They chose to do so at Robeson Community College.

Read the full story here: A true love story: RCC Alums Artie and Fanina Stewart | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Karen White

 At the age of 50, Karen White can finally say “I did it.”  Just recently she was named the Lead Kindergarten teacher at Long Branch Elementary, a dream come true you might say, and one she worked extremely hard to achieve.

“As I look out at my classroom, it’s just a phenomenal feeling,” Karen said. “Teaching is so fulfilling… you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished every day.”

Karen is an alumnus of Robeson Community College. She graduated with an associate’s degree in early childhood education in 2011, but that’s not where her story begins, nor is it where it ends.

Read the full story here: “Education opens doors” RCC Alum Karen White’s Journey to Success | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Kasey Oxendine and Harvey Strickland

 The Battle of the Butts has become an annual tradition at Robeson Community College. The competition turned drive-thru fundraiser raises money for Communities in Schools by allowing culinary arts students the opportunity to compete for who can create the best rub and sauce and then use that recipe to prepare barbeque plates that will be served to hundreds in the community.

Kasey Oxendine and Harvey Strickland were declared winners of the 3rd Annual Battle of the Butts competition. Kasey’s sauce will be mixed into the barbeque, and Harvey’s rub will be used in preparing the pork for the smokers.

“They both did really good for being first-year students,” said Ingram. “I can’t wait to see what else they do when they finish the program. I hope they decide to go big and do great things in the Chef World.”

Read the full story here: Culinary Students Kasey Oxendine and Harvey Strickland declared winners of 3rd Annual Battle of the Butts | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


David Bethea, Parker Pickard and Kimberly McMillan

More and more veterans are making the decision to return to the classroom as they transition from a life of service in the military to life as a civilian. Education tends to be key in ensuring a smooth transition, providing opportunities for retooling, networking, and forming lasting friendships with classmates while reinforcing the same values they gained on duty.

That’s the case for Private First Class David Bethea, Specialist Parker Pickard, and Sergeant First Class Kimberly McMillan. All three are enrolled in the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration program at Robeson Community College, an oasis of opportunity that they hope will take them far.

Read the full story here: Veterans turned students find an oasis in RCC’s HVAC program | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Anniatha McMillan

At 72 years young, Anniatha McMillan isn’t going to let anything get her down. Throughout her life, she has had to overcome adversity, but she says the key to success is living a life that is well lived, no matter what obstacles may lay before you.

“Never give up, just pursue,” Anniatha says with a smile. “They will look at you like you lost your mind.”

Read the full story here: RCC student Anniatha McMillan, 72, works towards degree | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Cody Edwards, Janea Hicks, Lekeya Grissett, and Nichole Ivey

Just a few weeks before graduation, Robeson Community College’s health science students Cody Edwards, Janea Hicks, Lekeya Grissett, and Nichole Ivey share what it was like getting prepared for life on the front lines as medical providers. Many already have jobs lined up and are excited about what the future holds. They know how important their roles will be in helping to save lives with the education they have received and the knowledge they have gained through clinicals and lectures.

One major event that has helped tie all their training together was Trauma Rodeo, an interdisciplinary practice exercise for health students in Emergency Medical Services, Radiography, Respiratory Therapy, and Nursing. The event included many first responders from various agencies in the region, emergency vehicles, law enforcement officers, as well as several helicopters that landed on campus to make the event feel as close to real life as possible.

Read the full story here: Soon-to-be graduates get ready for the front lines of healthcare | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Ashley McLaughlin

Throughout the day, you might find Ashley McLaughlin training new tellers and customer service representatives at one of the 14 branches with Lumbee Guaranty Bank, but for the last year, she’s been hard at work after hours studying to complete her degree in Business Administration at Robeson Community College.

“I remembered seeing her at graduation last year,” said Sherry Martin, the Registrar for RCC. “She was excited to see her sister graduate.”

Martin knew McLaughlin from when she had previously been a student. McLaughlin had stopped attending to focus more on her career in banking. Martin told her about how she might be eligible to earn credit for prior learning thanks to her work experience. McLaughlin was intrigued by this and immediately went to work to find out more and to complete the necessary steps needed to fast-track her degree.

Read the full story here: Prior Learning Credit put RCC’s Ashley McLaughlin on the fast-track to earning degree | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College

Jeremiah Locklear

Man’s best friend might be getting a smart upgrade to housing soon, thanks to a newly designed prototype doghouse by RCC graduate Jeremiah Locklear.

Locklear’s one-of-a-kind design features all the luxuries a dog could ask for including a remote-controlled door with sensors, automated feeders and water cooler, a roof that opens and closes, and best of all, its thermostat controlled so that the temperature inside can be moderated ensuring the pup stays cool in the hot days of summer and warm during frigid temperatures of winter.

Read the full story here: RCC’s Jeremiah Locklear designs and builds the ultimate “dog cave” | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Dulce Rocha

Each year, Robeson Community College selects one special student from its graduating class to be the recipient of the Academic Excellence Award.  This award is given out at each of the 58 community colleges in North Carolina and signifies highest academic honor that a student can achieve. This award honors those who have set the bar high, achieving the highest possible goals to attain the pinnacle of academic success.

The RCC 2023 recipient of the award was given to Dulce Rocha, an associate degree nursing student. Rocha was recognized during the 2023 Commencement Ceremony held on May 10.

Read the full story here: RCC Grad Dulce Rocha named 2023 Academic Excellence Winner | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Jerel Preston, Praythyn Oxendine, Kierra Locklear, and Joe Hunter

Haircuts. Facials. Beard Trimming. Shaves and Fades. You name it, and a student studying in the barbering program at Robeson Community College can probably do it.

Barbering is one of the oldest professions, and going to the barbershop is one of those time-honored traditions, as it tends to be thought of as that old-fashioned, community gathering place to catch up on news, relax, and get refreshed with a new look, trim, or cut.

RCC’s Barbering program, housed within the RCC COMTech Campus in Pembroke, fits the bill, providing services to the public while educating aspiring barbers with the foundational principles and techniques in an environment that’s fun, inviting, and friendly with lots of camaraderie and good energy… just like the barbershops you may know and love.

Read the full story here: RCC Barber Students in a league of their own | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Jeremiah Locklear and Angel Santiago

 Two recent graduates have helped to put Robeson Community College’s Mechatronics program on the map.

Jeremiah Locklear and Angel Santiago brought home silver from the National SkillsUSA competition held in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend, placing second in Mechatronics with a high score of 95.8. The duo competed against students from across the country and were finalists again teams from Tennessee, who took first place, and Georgia, which placed third.

The team was led by RCC Mechatronics Instructors Joseph Nation and Heath Worriax, who attended the competition with the students.

Read the full story here: RCC’s Locklear and Santiago bring home silver from National SkillsUSA | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Seth Bullard

The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, well-known for being the largest tribe east of the Mississippi, continues to grow exponentially – but not just in membership. The Tribe has a corporate side as well which is committed to seeking innovation by constantly developing new strategies in business to better serve its people.

With leadership that seeks creative, out-of-the-box thinking, the Tribe is reaching new heights, not only in the Indian Country but in the free enterprise system.

Take Lumbee Holdings, Inc., a federal contractor for the United States Government. This branch of the Lumbee Tribe is currently comprised of three subsidiary companies which are bringing much-needed resources and helping to create employment opportunities locally and worldwide, making it one of the major economic engines of the Southeast.

Read the full story here: RCC Apprenticeship program at Lumbee Holdings, Inc. soars, shapes future of next generation | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Michael Locklear

Starting this August, students can now earn an associate’s degree in Welding Technology at Robeson Community College. The addition of the degree program complements the credentials already currently available – a diploma, certificate, and short-term training.

“Education is important,” stated James Thomas, the program director of welding. “These classes give you more actual experience in a controlled environment where you learn how to weld and the process of welding. The theory knowledge contained within the degree will help out immensely and is equally as important”

Read the full story: Associate Degree pathway added to RCC’s Welding program | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Christian Williams

When Christian Williams set out on his journey to Robeson Community College a few years ago, he wasn’t sure what to expect. But through his struggles and perseverance, he has become an inspiration to many and a role model for others living with autism.

“He embodies the definition of success in every way possible,” stated RCC President Melissa Singler. “He had every excuse to not attend college, but that’s the very reason why he did – to show everyone that you can achieve your dreams no matter what.”

During the 2023 graduation ceremony, Williams was recognized during the speech by the commencement speaker, myFutureNC CEO and President, Cecilia Holden.

“One of our graduates today is autistic, but he didn’t let this define him or prescribe his outcomes in life,” Holden said. “He has persevered and worked hard to graduate today, and I’m excited to add that he’ll be graduating with a 3.9 GPA. Congratulations, Christian.”

Read the full story here: RCC Graduate Christian Williams defies all odds, overcomes adversity | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Bo’queishia Anderson, Tyreek Hall, James Knox, and Phil Wilson

Robeson Community College recently added a new course to its lineup of transportation courses – Behind the Wheel B to A. The class was added as an attempt to get more truck drivers in the pipeline, as the American Trucking Association estimates that there is a shortage of 80,000 drivers nationwide, which is expected to double by 2031.

The Behind the Wheel B to A class is a 4-week program for those who have a valid commercial learner’s permit. The class includes the pre-trip inspection, range and road driving portions of the Truck Driver Training program at RCC. It is recommended that those who enroll have experience with manual transmissions (clutch and shifting gears) and towing.

Read the full story here: RCC’s New B to A Class adds 4 new truck drivers to workforce | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Ross Masters

Taking just one class at Robeson Community College could change your life forever. That was the case for Lumberton native, Dr. Ross Masters, who decided to try out the medical field by enrolling in the Emergency Medical Technician continuing education class at RCC.

“I wanted something that was a little more impactful on other people’s lives,” Masters said, who had already earned a degree in political science from UNC and was working in sales. “I decided I wanted to get into medicine and I thought the best way to do that was to get some practical experience.”

Read the full story here: From EMT to MD: How RCC started Dr. Ross Masters on his path in medicine | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


Hannah Pearson

RCC’s University Transfer graduate Hannah Pearson has a goal – to become a licensed teacher for the State of North Carolina by the age of 19. At the age of 17, she graduated from Robeson Community College with an associate of arts and from Fairmont High School with her diploma, and come this Friday, she will begin moving into her dorm at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she will begin classes with junior status next Wednesday.

“I’m actually really excited, I am just ready for the new experience, ready to meet more people, and ready to see what college life is all about,” Pearson said.

Read the full story here: RCC University Transfer Grad Hannah Pearson enters UNCP as a junior at the age of 17 | Robeson Community College : Robeson Community College


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