The Sky’s the Limit for CCP Student Caroline Puerto

Caroline Puerto smiling at camera while propped against a building column and reading a book.

WINTERVILLE—As the spring semester draws to a close, Pitt Community College student Caroline Puerto is nearing completion of a two-year college transfer degree – and a high school diploma.

Puerto, a Grimesland resident, is a homeschooled senior who has also taken classes at PCC the past two years through North Carolina’s Career and College Promise (CCP) program. She’s excelled in her college coursework, and her future looks bright, as she prepares to further her education at Clayton State University in Georgia.

“My time at Pitt Community College has been an enriching experience for me,” Puerto says. “I was offered phenomenal opportunities for growth, both academically and as a person. The (instructors) and staff were accessible and truly cared about helping me succeed both academically and in life.”

A Dean’s List student with a 4.0 GPA at Pitt, Puerto is an officer with the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter. In April, she was one of 50 students selected to receive a PCC Academic Excellence Award for classroom achievement and volunteerism.

“Caroline has proven to be a great student and an even better person,” said PCC Director of High School Programs Alton Wadford. “Her passion for community, church and helping others will take her far in life. She will be a success at whatever she chooses to do.”

Puerto also received a State Academic Excellence Award from the N.C. Community College System this spring. The honor is bestowed upon one student at each of the state’s 58 community colleges each year, and Puerto was PCC’s selection for 2020.

“I was so honored to learn that I had been selected as the recipient of this award,” she said. “I am very thankful to all of the (instructors) who invested in me and spurred on my academic achievements. I am also grateful to my family and friends who supported me in my academic and personal goals.”

Upon completion of her diploma and associate degree, Puerto says she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in English at Clayton State. She will then move on to Virginia’s Liberty University for a master’s in professional writing, with the goal of becoming an English teacher and author. In fact, she’s already begun her writing career and is in the process of revising the first draft of her debut novel.

“I want to teach others and pass on my love for reading and writing,” Puerto says. “I want to enable people to articulate themselves clearly and skillfully. As an author, I hope to publish books that inspire and encourage all who read them.”

Puerto has even managed to find a unique way to combine her desire to serve others with her love of literature and storytelling. While interacting with young girls in her community, she says she noticed many of them appeared to be struggling from depression and anxiety. She immediately wanted to reach out with support and advice based on her own experiences, but realized she needed to build a stronger relationship with them first.

“Since I already had a passion for literature and story, I decided to use that passion as a bridge between me and the girls I wanted to reach,” Puerto said. “So I started the Readers of the Realm Book Club. My hope and goal in this club is to create strong relationships with girls, while exploring the world of literature together.

“Through the books and stories we read, I hope to inspire and encourage them while drawing them together in a wholesome sense of community and genuine friendship.”

Puerto’s history of community service also includes active participation at Reimage Church in Winterville, where she is a member of the student leadership team. She has also participated in mission trips to Honduras and Nicaragua through the church and says she learned a lot about teamwork while teaching Vacation Bible School to the children there and helping provide medical and dental services.

“We were all of different races and backgrounds, and yet we came together in perfect unity to offer help and the love of God to the needy in those countries,” she said. “It taught me that it is a beautiful and amazing thing when people with great differences come together and lean on each other’s separate strengths to achieve a common goal.”

Established in 2012, the CCP program provides seamless dual enrollment opportunities for eligible North Carolina high school students in order to accelerate completion of college certificates, diplomas and associate degrees that lead to college transfer or provide entry-level job skills. Tuition is free for CCP students, who must meet specific eligibility guidelines in order to participate in the program.

For more details on CCP opportunities at Pitt, contact Wadford at (252) 493-7745 or awadford@email.pittcc.edu.