During the month of April, FTCC will share a post on Monday and Friday mornings highlighting #CommunityCollegeMonth through students, graduates and our work in the community on our social media pages, which can be found by clicking on the following links: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
DeSiyre Spurgeon, a Fayetteville native, graduated from Fayetteville Technical Community College in 2017 – with high honors. She’s honest about her motivations for attending FTCC, specifically a community college, although she and many students have thousands of higher education institutions to choose from to attend after graduating high school. Spurgeon graduated from Douglas Byrd High School in 2015.
While at FTCC, Spurgeon earned the Tom McLean Ambassador Program scholarship through the FTCC Foundation, a $1,000 merit award and calls for the recipients of the award to represent the College at campus and community events. Spurgeon explained why community colleges are an important option in higher education.
“They can teach students who know absolutely nothing about navigating a college, how to do just that,” she said. “It gives students a less risky opportunity to learn and adjust to a new environment, a new level of rigor, especially students who have never experienced college culture, college expectations, or college-level courses.”
She went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with a psychology degree and a minor in neuroscience in 2019. Spurgeon attended UNC through C-STEP. The Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, a partnership with community colleges, such as FTCC, creates a path for students to transfer to and graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill after earning their associate degree at a partner institution.
Spurgeon participated in a Q&A as part of FTCC’s celebration of April as “Community College Month,” a time to recognize higher education institutions for what they provide students of all backgrounds, celebrate the achievements of their graduates and to highlight the way those colleges – students included – give back to the communities that embrace them each year.
Why did you choose to attend FTCC? UNC?
I chose FTCC because I was a low-income, first-generation student who was completely against taking out loans and going into debt. Attending FTCC afforded me the opportunity to receive financial aid, including grants and scholarships that helped me graduate debt-free.
I chose UNC because this college allowed me to graduate debt-free and opened me up to a network of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise!
What are you doing now, and how long have you been in that position?
I am currently a College Adviser through the Carolina College Advising Corps [at Dudley High School in Greensboro], and I have been in this role for two years! As an adviser, I am able to assist low-income, underrepresented, minority students with the college process and increase college-going rates in this demographic.
How would you summarize your experience from attending a community college? What did you take away from it?
My experience attending a community college, FTCC in particular, provided me with a solid foundation and skills that were essential for life as a university student. If I had not attended community college before UNC, I would not have achieved the same level of success, even more, I believe I would have failed miserably if I had attended a four-year immediately after high school because high school did not prepare me for college at all.
At FTCC, I learned how to network, manage my time (I was a full-time student who worked two part-time jobs and still maintained a 4.0 GPA), find scholarship opportunities that allowed me to graduate debt-free, organize and facilitate study groups, build rapport with professors, find and utilize campus resources and so much more.
What do you want people to know about community colleges?
Community college should not be looked down on and should be more than just a backup plan. It is more affordable than most colleges, less risky, and the North Carolina articulation agreements [between community colleges and four-year schools] makes it super transfer friendly.
After seeing our posts these last few weeks acknowledging #CCMonth, what inspired you to share your story with our social media followers?
As a high school college adviser, I have been promoting and advertising #CCMonth to my students – and as a community college grad myself – I wanted to make sure I am representing my entire pathway to them, not just the UNC side. High school students need to see community colleges as a viable, affordable pathway that can get them where they need to be, and I know that my story can inspire them to reconsider attending community college for two years, then transferring rather than attending a super pricy university for four to six years and accumulating significant debt.