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VISIONS Program Celebrates Class of 2012

Tyler Best smiles as he talks about how much his grades have improved as a result of the support he has received through PCC's VISIONS program.

WINTERVILLE—Though he had note cards in hand as he stepped to the microphone, Tyler Best didn’t really seem to need them as he delivered a heartfelt message that effectively summed up the purpose of Pitt Community College’s VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program.

A senior at J.H. Rose High School, Best spoke during an event at Rock Springs Center this month to celebrate the graduation of this year’s VISIONS class.

He talked about how there was a time not long ago when he didn’t take high school all that seriously—and that he had the grades to prove it.

But as he prepares to receive his diploma this month, Best said he plans to become a physician and start a charitable organization to help others in need. He explained that the support he received through VISIONS gave him a new outlook and the confidence to believe he can have a successful future.

Started in 2004 as a way to reduce Pitt County’s drop-out rate while increasing the number of county students attending college, VISIONS is a collaborative effort between the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation, the PCC Foundation, Pitt County Schools and the Greater Greenville Foundation. The program provides a select group of Pitt County high school students, like Best, with the direction and support they need in order to obtain diplomas and move on to higher education.

As part of this month’s celebration, the students received words of encouragement from PCC President G. Dennis Massey, Pitt County Schools Superintendent Beverly Emory, and Melissa Spain, director of the Greater Greenville Foundation. They also received plaques commemorating their completion of the VISIONS high school program.

Additionally, Herman Simon Awards – named in honor of a key figure in the creation of VISIONS – were presented to North Pitt’s Katey Dunn (highest overall grade point average), D.H. Conley’s Jenna Sutton (highest unweighted GPA), and Ayden-Grifton’s T-Boriea Whitehurst (most improved GPA).

Due to the success of the first VISIONS class of 27 students that graduated in May 2005, Eddie Smith, the program’s benefactor, has increased funding over the years to allow more students to participate.

This year’s VISIONS class was comprised of 52 students representing all six Pitt County high schools. All of the students were selected for the program during their junior year of high school and have received special mentoring and advising from PCC staff throughout their senior year. 

Last summer, the students participated in a weeklong program to learn more about the educational and career options available to them locally.

Most of the students will now move on to PCC, where they will continue to receive personal and academic counseling from college staff.