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Walls Named ‘Great within the 58’ Recipient

Ayden Resident Making Most of His Education to Become History Teacher

Though unexpected, Eric Wells says being named PCC's "Great within the 58 Award" recipient makes him feel as if all of his hard work in the classroom is "finally starting to pay off."

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College has selected university transfer student Eric Walls as its recipient of the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) Academic Excellence Award.

Walls, an Ayden resident, will receive his “Great within the 58 Award” on March 20, when PCC recognizes 50 of its best and brightest students during the 2015 Academic Excellence Awards program.

“It is truly an honor to receive the NCCCS Academic Excellence Award, especially as the representative of PCC – one of the largest community colleges in the entire North Carolina system,” Walls said. “It has been a challenging road—going back to school after nearly 15 years out of the classroom—and I couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement of the truly excellent staff and instructors at PCC I have had the privilege of working with and learning from over the last couple of years.”

Three PCC instructors nominated Walls for the award, which is presented annually to a top student from each of the state’s 58 community colleges in recognition of outstanding achievement in the classroom and volunteerism.

“Eric Walls’ academic performance is nothing short of excellent,” said PCC instructor Wesley Bishop, who has had Walls as a student in three history courses.

The 35-year-old Walls, a 1997 graduate of J.H. Rose High School, chose to enroll at PCC in 2012—well after the music magazine he created as a high school student had folded and he’d spent 10 years working in retail management. His new career goal, he says, is to become a history teacher.

“I have always been passionate about history, and I always wanted to share my passion for the subject with others, while at the same time making a difference,” he says. “I surely wasn't doing that slinging t-shirts and skinny jeans to teenagers at the mall.”

Once he has completed his associate degree requirements at Pitt this spring, Walls plans to transfer to East Carolina University to major in history education. He says he wants to teach high school history upon completion of a bachelor’s degree and ultimately pursue a master’s, in order to teach at the college level.

“I would love to teach at PCC,” says Walls, who volunteers as a tutor for children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain several times each month.

Having recorded a 4.0 GPA at Pitt, Walls has earned a host of awards and honors, including induction into the college’s Phi Theta Kappa and Gamma Beta Phi honor societies. Last week, he was chosen to receive an International Education Travel Scholarship to participate in a cultural study of Cuba later this year.

“I can honestly say that I am truly lucky to have a school like PCC right in my back yard, as I have had nothing but a positive, enlightening and encouraging experience in my time here.” Walls said. “The instructors here are second to none and truly have a passion for teaching. I couldn't have made it this far without their help and the experience I have had attending PCC.”