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FTCC taught Alicen Rodolph she could reach higher – much higher

Growing up, Alicen Rodolph’s educational opportunities were limited.

She was homeschooled but didn’t receive documentation of high school graduation. When she applied for college, she had to take remedial courses to receive her high school diploma. She enrolled at a 4-year university with the aim of becoming a nurse but left after a year, deciding that wasn’t the right path for her.

She wanted more from life and saw higher education as a necessary stepping stone.

Alicen Rodolph

Alicen Rodolph

But how to make it work?

She enrolled at Fayetteville Technical Community College. By this point, Rodolph was married to a member of the military and living in Fayetteville. She’d found success working for a major retailer. But she wanted to improve her situation.

After leaving the university, Rodolph decided community college would be a better first step into higher education. As it turned out, she liked the flexibility and accessibility of FTCC’s courses and felt she had more choices. FTCC was also less expensive. She continued to work full-time while attending FTCC and, in 2014, earned her associate degree in general education. In doing so, she became the first member of her family to graduate from college.

It was a thrilling accomplishment – and it helped Rodolph believe that she could set her sights even higher.

In 2017, she earned her bachelor’s degree in business studies-human resources through distance and online learning. She was still working full-time in retail – now in Florida – and had advanced in her company. But she was increasingly interested in making a career change to focus on a personal passion for helping people, including victims of human trafficking. To have a significant impact in such issues, she decided, she’d need to obtain an advanced degree – in law.

So she took the LSAT. It was the first standardized test she had ever taken – and she didn’t do well her first time out. Or her second. But Rodolph kept taking the test until she got the score she wanted. In 2018, she was accepted into William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va.

During law school, Rodolph has succeeded in her classes. But she has also been busy in other ways. She spent one summer in Bangladesh, working on a project targeting human trafficking. The following summer, she interned with the Human Trafficking Protection Unit in the U.S. Department of Justice. In May 2020, she was one of four law students selected for a Douglass Fellowship with the Human Trafficking Institute, where her activities have included creation of a podcast about human trafficking, called “Trafficking Matters.” And last November, she was selected for the Army JAG Corps. She will join the JAG Corps when she graduates in May of this year.

Rodolph says she’s come much further than she ever could have imagined. She said her husband’s support and encouragement has been key.

So was FTCC, Rodolph said: “Getting the degree from FTCC showed me that I was capable of academic success that led me to the next step and the next.”

Rodolph’s podcast, “Trafficking Matters,” can be heard on any podcast streaming platform. Or visit https://www.traffickinginstitute.org/douglass-fellows-launch-trafficking-matters-podcast/