Jordan Williamson of Henderson, a student in the College Transfer program at Vance-Granville Community College, was recently the college’s nominee for the North Carolina Community College System’s Dallas Herring Achievement Award.
The award was established by the system in 2010 to honor the late Dr. Dallas Herring, the longtime State Board of Education chairman and one of the state’s earliest advocates of community colleges. Each year, the award recognizes a current or former community college student who best embodies Herring’s philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go.”
Williamson said that VGCC had helped him to overcome learning challenges and earn a college degree. “As a child, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is characterized by social awkwardness and difficulty communicating feelings,” he wrote in an essay for the award nomination. “My grade school education was normal, by all accounts, but I struggled to interact comfortably with other people. As I advanced through school and eventually entered the Vance County Early College High School, I withdrew socially. I was allowed certain accommodations in order to compensate for some of my challenges in class, but at times these seemed to separate me from my peers even more. My instructors offered their support and understanding, which allowed me to continue my education without the need for remedial or special classes.”
As a VGCC student, Williamson wrote, “the opportunities that I have been afforded have allowed me to excel in my education…. I was allowed to record notes during class, instead of having to write them down. I was allowed additional time during exams to help alleviate my anxiety during timed exams. I was allowed a separate, quiet area to take my tests in order to reduce distractions and allow me to focus more clearly. I have been allowed the opportunity to succeed or fail based on my own merits.”
Williamson describes himself as “a young man who has to use the tools that I have been given and try to achieve the best that I can with them.” He is graduating from VGCC this month with his Associate in Arts degree, as well as his diploma from Vance County Early College High School.
“I want to continue my education and work in the field of science,” Williamson added. “I aspire to use the gifts that I have been given to become the best person that I can. I do not know what my future holds, but my present has been shaped by the opportunities that I have been given. My goal is to become someone, that when I look back from a ripe old age, did his best with the tools he was given.”
“During Jordan’s tenure at Vance County Early College High School and Vance-Granville Community College, I have seen him grow and mature socially, physically and academically,” said Evangeline Mitchell, VGCC’s college liaison for the high school. “He is a daily reminder that with hard work, dedication and perseverance, anything is possible. I am so proud of Jordan and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”