Former High School Dropout Excels at JTCC, Becoming One of Virginia’s Top Community College Students
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Released on May 07, 2013
CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Three years ago, if you told Julianna Morgan she would be one of the top community college students in Virginia, she would have laughed. Morgan says that’s because she was a very different person three years ago when she started taking classes at John Tyler Community College. At the time, she was a 27-years old single mother with a one-year old son. She says she lacked confidence and was not sure she had what it takes to succeed in college. She doubted herself academically, in part, she says, because she had dropped out of high school. In the years after she left high school, Morgan obtained her GED, entered the workforce, and gave birth to her son. It was then that she discovered she wanted more for herself and for her little boy. So, she gathered her courage, drove to John Tyler Community College, enrolled, and began her college career.
Morgan describes herself as so overcome with anxiety when she walked into her first class that she had to turn around and walk out of the room to catch her breath. That feeling, however, changed quickly. Morgan says with the encouragement of the College’s faculty and staff, she began to overcome her fears and her doubts, and soon, she discovered something she didn’t expect – a love for history. Once ignited, that passion blossomed. When the College started a History Club, Morgan was one of the first to sign up. She was vice president and for the past year has been the club’s president. Her involvement in that club was just the beginning. She then became part of the College’s Student Council, volunteered at numerous John Tyler events, such as Fool for Art, and took an active role in many College activities. She made new connections, enjoyed the sense of diversity she says she found at Tyler, and found her confidence building. At the same time, Morgan excelled academically.
It is all those achievements that recently earned Morgan a coveted spot on the Top Ten All-Virginia Academic Team, a recognition that showcases the best community college students in the Commonwealth as ranked by USA Today, The Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and the American Association of Community Colleges. When asked what it’s like to receive this honor, Morgan smiles shyly. “I was floored when I heard the news. I’m also so proud,” she says.
Morgan also is excited about another major achievement. She is just days away from graduating from John Tyler Community College with a General Studies associate degree. “I know I’ll be emotional as I walk across the stage,” says Morgan, “If I look out in the audience and see my son and family, I’ll probably cry.” After celebrating her accomplishments at Tyler, Morgan will start working on her next goal – a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Commonwealth University. After that, she hopes to continue her education in history by earning a master’s and eventually a doctorate degree.
Morgan is proof that a lot can change in three years – especially one’s view of oneself. Morgan says she now sees herself as a new person – one who is confident, who is a leader, and who has the strength to overcome challenges. She says she’s thankful to the people of John Tyler for believing in her, for pushing her to achieve her dreams, and for helping her discover who she really is.
John Tyler Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education and is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. With campuses in Chester and Midlothian and off-campus classrooms throughout the area, John Tyler offers quality and economical opportunities for students who want to earn a degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year college or university, train for the workforce, or switch careers. The College, which served more than 14,895 students during the 2011-12 academic year, offers 18 associate degrees, eight certificates, and 35 career studies certificates. The institution also serves 15,000 non-credit students and more than 1,000 companies and government agencies annually through the Community College Workforce Alliance. The College also is committed to sustainability. In July 2010, it received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for Hamel Hall on its Midlothian Campus, becoming the first in the Virginia Community College System to receive such recognition. John Tyler Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
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