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VISIONS Thriving as It Celebrates 10 Years

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

PCC VISIONS High School Coordinator Rebecca Warren (left) takes time out for a photo with J.H. Rose senior Ziqueshae Whitehurst, who is participating in the college's VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program. Through VISIONS, Whitehurst is receiving direction and support designed to help her complete her final year of high school and transition into college

WINTERVILLE—Ten years after it began, the VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program at Pitt Community College is not only alive and well these days, it’s thriving.

This month, the program welcomed 49 high school juniors and their parents to campus for orientation. After receiving a warm welcome from PCC President G. Dennis Massey, the students heard from successful VISIONS participants and signed contracts to officially join the program.

Rebecca Warren, PCC VISIONS High School Coordinator, says the newest VISIONS class is comprised of students from each of Pitt County’s six public high schools. She said North Pitt has the highest representation with 13 students, followed by J.H. Rose (10), D.H. Conley (9), South Central (8), Ayden-Grifton (7) and Farmville Central (2).

Warren says there are still openings for additional students wanting to join this year’s VISIONS class and encouraged those interested in the program to contact career development coordinators at their respective high schools.

“We’re seeking students eager to take advantage of the opportunity to earn a college degree at PCC and who may not have any other means to do so without assistance from the VISIONS program,” Warren said, adding that with the addition of the most recent VISIONS class, there are currently 106 Pitt County high school students participating in the program.

Adonis McKelvey is one of those participants. The senior at Ayden-Grifton High School says VISIONS not only opened his eyes to the importance of a college degree, it has made it possible for him to pursue that training.

“After (speaking) with my teacher, I saw this as an amazing opportunity,” McKelvey said. “Up until receiving the scholarship, I had no real plans for college. So, not only was this helpful in terms of paying for college but helpful for planning as well.”

Like McKelvey, J.H. Rose senior Ziqueshae Whitehurst says VISIONS has made earning a college degree attainable. The future nurse says she always knew she was going to pursue a college education but didn’t know how she was going to pay for it.

“I started looking around for scholarship opportunities and never really found one that looked suitable for me until I found VISIONS,” Whitehurst said. “I feel like the VISIONS Scholarship Program is perfect for me.”

Launched in 2004 to help reduce Pitt County’s high school drop-out rate and increase the number of 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.

High school personnel recommend students for the program based on a number of factors, including academic performance, financial need and career interest.

In the 10-year history of the program, Warren says nearly 100 percent of VISIONS participants have completed high school. Those who make the transition to PCC receive personal and academic counseling at the college in addition to $1,000-scholarships ($500 per semester), she said, adding that students can renew the funding for a second year if they maintain a 2.3 grade point average throughout their first year of college.

Due to the success of the first VISIONS class of 27 students, funding was increased to allow more Pitt County students to participate.

This year, Warren said, VISIONS has added a new component to serve students pursuing technical pathways in high school and make them aware of the many career possibilities within their field of interest. She said former carpentry instructor Jim Shallow has been hired to recruit and advise technical students accepted into the VISIONS program.

“Many students have a limited view of technical career possibilities while they are in high school,” Shallow said. “They may be exposed to automotive or electrical or construction careers, for example, but never truly get to know about the jobs available in machining or air conditioning, heating and refrigeration.”

Shallow, who taught with Pitt County Schools for 38 years, says his goal is to make sure students know of those potential career options and that VISIONS can help them receive the training they need to fill those jobs.

Students who are accepted into the VISIONS program receive the direction and support they need in order to obtain their high school diplomas and move into higher education.

Warren monitors each high school participant’s academic progress by traveling to their schools and meeting with them one-on-one and in group settings. The students also receive mentoring, tutoring, and academic and personal advising from PCC staff, and Warren arranges seminars for them on important topics, such as goal-setting, test-taking skills, and applying for federal financial aid.

For more information on VISIONS or for an application, contact Warren at (252) 493-7501 or rwarren@email.pittcc.edu.