VISIONS a Stepping Stone for Erika Lozano
Four years ago, 27 Pitt County high school seniors celebrated their upcoming graduation with family and friends at the Greenville Shrine Club.
Joining the students were several of the county’s educational leaders, who were on hand to congratulate them and praise Pitt Community College’s new VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program.
As a driving rain fell outside the Shrine Club, PCC President G. Dennis Massey assured the students and their families that VISIONS would help them make a successful transition into higher education and work side-by-side with them to ensure their success.
“Be optimistic about your chances, work hard, and we’ll be your partner,” Massey told the students. “We want to see you succeed.”
Today, the success Massey envisioned in 2005 has been realized by numerous members of that first VISIONS class, including Erika Lozano, who earned an associate degree from PCC in Business Administration: Marketing and Retailing in 2008.
The 22-year-old Lozano now has her own office at Washington’s Hackney International, Inc., where she works as an international sales representative. Her story is a sterling example of what VISIONS founders had in mind when they created the program in 2004 to help Pitt County students complete high school, enroll in higher education and move into the local workforce.
“The VISIONS program helped me a lot because I wasn’t even thinking of going to college,” Lozano said. “I did not think things would turn out this well. I am the daughter of a single mom and had no money to attend school, but I applied to VISIONS.”
The rest, as they say, is history as Lozano became the first member of her family to graduate from college. That alone is something she says makes her “feel very, very proud.”
From the end of her junior year at North Pitt High School in 2005 to her PCC graduation in May, VISIONS provided Lozano with the support, encouragement and guidance she needed to go from student to employee.
“I told (VISIONS Program Advisor) Gene Hemby I have him on speed dial all the time,” Lozano said. “I’ve called him for so many things.”
Without a doubt, Lozano is aware of how PCC and its VISIONS program have impacted her life for the better. “I’m never going to forget all they did to help me,” she said.