When Janice Oxendine graduated from Pembroke Senior High School in 1977, she, like many high school graduates in Robeson County of that era, wanted to get a “factory” job. Her mother wanted her to continue school by taking secretarial classes.
Oxendine enrolled at what was then Robeson Technical Institute in 1978 and earned a cosmetology degree in 1980, but she did more than earn a degree. She formed relationships. She formed relationships with other students, with instructors, with staff, and with the institution itself as she kept coming back. She earned Nursing Assistant 1 and 2 certifications in 1988 and 1989 under Ms. Margie Cribb and an associate degree in college transfer in 1997 that allowed her to transfer to UNCP that fall.
The stories Oxendine tells about the folks that help her along the way read like a Who’s Who of the college’s history.
“Evelyn Hunt and Betty Biggs were great cosmetology instructors,” Oxendine said.
Dr. Sylvester Wooten and a Ms. Linda Falls helped her get through her math classes. Oxendine credits long-time science instructor Shelia Regan for her in success in Biology. Oxendine says she has forgotten a lot of the names, but not the experiences that she had at Robeson Community College.
“I just felt like I was in my place of learning,” she said, touting the small classes and personal experience she received.
However, it wasn’t just the instructors and classes that Oxendine remembers. She met Brenda McKinney, a staff member who worked in the college’s student services area, and who was from the same community as Oxendine. Oxendine credits McKinney for encouraging her to persist with her studies. Oxendine says many of her friends today are people she met while she was attending Robeson Community College, including her best friend.
The importance of those caring relationships was not lost on Ms. Oxendine. She not only carries the memories with her, she pays them forward in her career today with Robeson Health Care Corporation, where she serves as a health educator, certified substance abuse prevention consultant and certified substance abuse counselor. As she implements prenatal classes, infant care classes and parenting classes, she models the same care and passion that she received as a student and she seeks to form the same kind of relationships with her clients as her former instructors formed with her.
Recently Ms. Oxendine came full circle as she accompanied two of her clients on a tour of Robeson Community College. She continues to encourage others to expand their potential by enrolling.
“I enjoy encouraging others and I think the small classes and convenient time work well for working people,” she said. “I went to school at night and worked during the day and raised a family with the help of my husband.”
Forty years after Ms. Oxendine first enrolled, Robeson Community College continues the tradition of helping people better their lives through education. If you or someone you know would like to take advantage of the opportunities that the college offers, contact us at 910-272-3342 for more information, or visit us on the web at www.robeson.edu.
Dennis Watts is a spokesman for Robeson Community College.