Since Christmas is a time of giving and Robeson Community College has a history of service to the community that goes back more than 50 years, it is an appropriate time of year to highlight an alumnus who demonstrates those characteristics. No one epitomizes the concept of giving back and giving to others in service than 2002 graduate Rudy T. Locklear. Locklear has been giving to the community for almost half of his 35 years, but he began preparing for service in elementary school.
Capt. Donald Baker, of the Pembroke Police Department, ran the DARE program at Pembroke Elementary School at the time and participation in that program sparked an interested in public safety service for Locklear. That spark would soon become a fire.
When he got to Purnell Swett High School, school resource officers there continued to stoke that fire. Sue Lutz helped Locklear with his senior project by taking him to the Sheriff’s Office, introducing him to the command staff, and giving him a tour of the department.
When he graduated from Swett in 2000, Locklear received one of the Robeson Community College Foundation scholarships that are given to one senior at each of the county’s high schools. He used that scholarship to enroll in the Criminal Justice program at the college, where he met James Sanderson, who served as his criminal justice advisor and as the Basic Law Enforcement Training director. When Locklear graduated with his associate’s degree in Criminal Justice in May of 2002, Sanderson encouraged him to enroll in the college’s Basic Law Enforcement program. Locklear began the program immediately and finished it as the honor graduate in the class of December 2002.
Locklear started working as a bailiff at the courthouse in July 2003 and reconnected with his early mentor, Donald Baker, who was by then serving as a Sheriff’s Office supervisor. Meanwhile, Sanderson continued to encourage Locklear to further his education so he enrolled in the criminal justice program at UNCP in 2004 and graduated with a four-year degree in 2006. Not one to let moss grow, Locklear applied to graduate school at UNCP in 2007.
Also in 2007, then-Clerk of Court Renae Hunt, who was familiar with his service as a bailiff, solicited Locklear to serve as a magistrate.
Locklear finished his master’s in Public Administration, including 18 hours in Criminal Justice, in 2011. Having already served for several years as a deputy and a magistrate, Locklear began to look for other ways to give back, which led him to a part-time teaching stints at RCC and UNCP, all while maintaining his full-time position as a magistrate. As an instructor he tries to encourage others.
“Don’t stop here. Always make that investment in yourself and further your education. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t go back and get my bachelor and master degrees,” Locklear said.
In 2014 Locklear began work toward a doctoral degree in Public Policy and Administration at Walden University. He has completed his coursework and residency requirements and plans to defend his dissertation at the end of 2018.
If this wasn’t enough to keep Locklear busy, he also serves on alumni associations at RCC and UNCP. At UNCP he has served as on the alumni board for 10 years, including stints as second vice president, first vice president, president, and currently, immediate past president.
Professionally he has served as president of the N.C. Magistrate’s Association and he is on the board for Southeastern Family Violence Center. Last year Gov. Pat McCrory appointed him to the N.C. Domestic Violence Commission on recommendation of House Speaker Tim Moore.
Locklear is also a captain with town of Pembroke Fire Department.
Not only does Locklear teach in BLET program at RCC, he also teaches prospective instructors, having completed the advanced instructor methodology course.
When asked about his aspirations for the future, Locklear said, “I don’t want to be a person who gets stagnant and gets complacent with the status quo. I want to continue to improve on myself.”
He added that he wants to see what doors the doctorate opens and says he lives by two philosophies related to education and advancement.
“My philosophy is that the greatest investment you can make is an investment in yourself, but if a door doesn’t open, it wasn’t your door,” Locklear said.
Robeson Community College led to the opening of many doors for Locklear.
“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started here at RCC,” he said..
If you would like to see what doors RCC can open for you, classes resume on Jan. 8. Visit us online at www.robeson.edu/admissions to begin the process or call us at 910-272-3342 on or after Jan. 2 when the college reopens.
Dennis Watts is the spokesperson for Robeson Community College