Former VISIONS Students Highlight Graduation Celebration
WINTERVILLE—The Pitt Community College VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program recently celebrated the upcoming graduations of its high school participants.
The annual event took place at the Greenville Hilton May 25 and featured former VISIONS participants detailing their experiences with the program, awards presentations, and words of encouragement from VISIONS staff and key program partners — the PCC Foundation, Eddie & Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation and Pitt County Schools.
Established in 2004 to help reduce Pitt County’s high school dropout rate, VISIONS provides a select group of students each year with the direction and support they need to earn diplomas and transition into higher education. Between 2005 and 2023, 98% of 1,147 VISIONS participants completed high school on time. Another 77 — representing six Pitt County public high schools — are expected to graduate this month.
“The personal and career development and mentorship VISIONS provides helps Pitt County high school students reach their academic potential,” PCC VISIONS Director Rebecca Warren says. “It’s exciting to see each VISIONS class succeed. Many of those students aren’t recognized during awards programs at their schools, but we believe their hard work and perseverance are worth celebrating. For me, one of the highlights each year is seeing students’ smiling faces during our graduation celebration.”
To encourage the Class of 2023 to continue pushing toward academic and career goals, a pair of former VISIONS participants, Myra Harris and Terence Streeter, shared their success stories. Harris and Streeter, who are getting married this month, are 2018 J.H. Rose graduates who took part in VISIONS in high school and PCC.
“We both had our minds set that we wanted to go to college after high school and knew VISIONS could help us make that happen,” Streeter said.
After initially working toward a two-year degree in Human Services at Pitt, Harris set her sights on a four-year degree in social work. She applied to East Carolina University’s School of Social Work and set to work on completing additional college credits she needed for transfer – all under the watchful eyes of VISIONS staff.
“… For about two semesters, I was taking six to eight courses (each) semester …,” Harris recalled. “I was determined, and Mrs. Rebecca kept an eye on me to make sure that when I came to work in the VISIONS office, I also completed my schoolwork.”
Harris graduated from ECU last month with a master’s degree in social work. She is now working full-time with the Pitt County Department of Social Services.
“The VISIONS staff were my greatest source of support on this journey,” Harris says. “… Because VISIONS believed in me, I gained the confidence to believe in myself.”
Streeter also credited VISIONS with helping him discover his academic potential and career calling. He is currently working as a welder at Hyster-Yale.
“Like Myra, my support system included the VISIONS staff and others who took time out of their schedules to help me perfect my craft in the welding booth, so that I could be successful in my career field,” he said.
Harris and Streeter challenged the students to relentlessly pursue the goals they’ve established for themselves.
“Don’t give up because of a detour or when a roadblock arises,” Harris said. “… You have come too far to quit on yourself and walk away.”
While every student was recognized for completing the VISIONS high school program, 28 earned special recognition for recording unweighted GPAs of 3.0 or higher by the end of the 2022-23 academic year’s first semester. Of those students, D.H. Conley’s Emily-Rose Haddock, North Pitt’s Evan White and South Central’s Sofia Bick-Martinez received awards for having 3.8 unweighted GPAs — highest among this year’s high school participants.
Another 28 students were recognized for GPA improvement during their time with VISIONS. Of those students, North Pitt’s Lisette Mendez-SanJuan earned the “Most Improved GPA Award.”
Also honored were J.H. Rose’s Char’Le Guy and Miriam Silverio-Gonzalez, who received the annual Barbara and Jim Moye Scholarship worth $1,200. Guy plans to pursue an associate degree in nursing at PCC, while Silverio-Gonzalez will major in medical sonography.
Though some students honored last month will join the military, enroll at other institutions or enter the workforce, most will move on to PCC this fall. Those who do will receive scholarships and continue receiving personal and academic counseling from college VISIONS staff.