College is not easy — nor should it be.
Post-secondary education should challenge students, for it is through challenges that people grow. The challenges should not be so great, however, that students cannot navigate them successfully. Also, students are individuals and as individuals each is at a different stage in his or her life with different backgrounds, experiences and needs.
Colleges are increasingly offering different routes to an education in an effort to help students overcome challenges and meet their individual needs. Robeson Community College offers online classes, the Career and College Promise program where high school students can take college classes at their home schools, and Early College High School as examples of these different routes to a college education.
Lumberton High School graduate and RCC student Zulma Arroyo took advantage of the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, C-STEP, to fulfill her dream of attending the University of North Carolina. RCC offers the C-STEP program in partnership with UNC.
RCC began participating in C-STEP two years ago, about the same time Arroyo finished high school. She is the first student from RCC to meet all the requirements and earn admission to Chapel Hill, where she will enroll this fall after spending her first two years here.
Arroyo, initially interested in a health science career, says she chose to enroll at RCC because her family wanted her to stay close to home. She decided to follow the college transfer route when she heard a presentation on the C-STEP program at RCC. Once she receives her associate degree at RCC in May, she plans to complete her undergraduate degree at Carolina and apply to medical school there.
“I believe that I made the right decision in attending RCC because it has some great professors. The professors are amazing in letting the students feel welcome and making sure that they know the subject,” Arroyo said.
C-STEP is designed to foster success by identifying talented low-to-moderate income students early in their community college experience, and work with the community college to mentor students as they complete the associate degree and transfer as a junior to UNC. RCC students who participate in the program are guaranteed admission to UNC, provided they complete the associate in Arts or associate in Science degree and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA, above 3.2.
Each student participating in C-STEP works with an academic advisor at Robeson Community College and UNC. These students participate in activities designed to develop a connection with the Carolina community, including students, faculty, and staff.
“The C-STEP program has changed my life in many ways such as making my dream come true in attending UNC-Chapel Hill,” Arroyo said. “I feel like the C-STEP program is a family to me now because I have met new friends every time I visited Chapel Hill, and the directors are always there to make me feel welcome.”
Crystal Edmonds serves as the C-STEP coordinator at Robeson Community College in addition to serving as the program director of the English Department.
“Zulma is a great example of our transfer students and where RCC can lead them. I am excited as she begins a new journey at Chapel Hill this fall,” Edmonds said.
For more information about the C-STEP program, contact Edmonds by email at [email protected] or by phone at 910-272-3362.
Dennis Watts is the Public Information officer for Robeson Community College.