Camps provide early look at possible careers

The Public Schools of Robeson County, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and Robeson Community College successfully completed the third year of Project ACCESS summer camps this past week as part of a four-year, $2.4 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education. The goal of the project is to improve access to higher education and career preparedness for American Indian youth of Robeson County. In addition to this series of camps, the college also partnered with North Carolina State University to offer an Engineering camp for the first time.

ACCESS stands for Achieving College Opportunities, Community Engagement, and Student Success. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is also a partner in the grant and runs camps on its campus.

Last year students had the opportunity to participate in one of four camps at RCC. This year the offerings were expanded to seven choices.

AIMS, which stands for Acquiring Interest in Math and Science and Camp, gives rising fourth- and fifth-grade students a chance to get a hands-on look at that world. Students used microscopes to examine worm eggs in goat feces, grew crystals on charcoal and learned about mass in experiments with gummy bears among other activities. Camper Chloe Locklear said, “it was a super-fun camp.” She added that the experience made her think about becoming a veterinarian.

Parent Jenny Hammonds said the experience was wonderful and her son Nathan came home excited every day. Nathan said the experience made him consider science as a future career.

Seventh- through 10th-grade students worked in groups to build and load software onto five computers in the Cybersecurity camp. The emphasis of this camp was on defending computers against malicious threats from hackers. Students toured a medical facility in Moore County to see how a large organization utilizes computer technology and defends itself against external threats.

Eighth- through 11th-graders attended an Industrial Technologies Camp, where they learned welding skills on the college’s virtual welders and built DC motors. These students also toured local manufacturer Graphics Packaging.

Camp Scrubs attendees were rising ninth- through 12th-grade students. They received an in-depth look into health careers, specifically the five health science areas offered at RCC — Nursing, Radiography, Emergency Medical Science, Respiratory Therapy and Surgical Technology.

Law Enforcement Director and Robeson’s recently named Instructor of the Year Mickey Biggs and Magistrate and RCC alumnus Rudy Locklear led a Forensics camp for the first time this year. Students in this program learned fingerprinting and crime scene investigation techniques and toured the state crime lab in Raleigh.

Jordan Deese and Jarrett Oxendine, both recent graduates of Robeson’s Emergency Medical Science program, and active EMT’s helped lead the project’s first EMS camp. Students learned how to use defibrillators during the week and each student left this camp with CPR certification. An Air Reach medical transport helicopter from McLeod Medical Center landed on campus Wednesday afternoon so that students could get an up-close experience with that aspect of EMS work.

Robeson Community College’s Patricia Locklear and the Lumbee Tribe’s Rita Locklear coordinated the camps.

It’s about introducing science, technology, engineering and math careers to the students,” Rita Locklear said. “They left with knowledge of careers in those areas which can help them decide whether or not they want to pursue those careers or something else.”

Patricia Locklear added that the program makes students aware of the college’s Career and College Promise program whereby high school students can earn college credits while still in high school. Both agreed that the camps were successful in meeting these goals. The earlier opportunities are given to students to experience careers and college firsthand, the more equipped they will be when making choices in high school and beyond.

RCC President Kimberly Gold was instrumental in bringing the engineering camp to RCC, having seen a similar partnership at Isothermal Community College, where she previously served as vice president and chief academic officer. These students built solar ovens, filtered river water and built “Rube Goldberg” machines. The goal of the camp is to build interest in engineering among school-aged children.

Photos of camp activities are available on the college’s Facebook page at
These young people learn about fingerprinting in a forensics camp taught by Mickey Biggs, RCC’s law enforcement director, and Rudy Locklear, a local magistrate. young people learn about fingerprinting in a forensics camp taught by Mickey Biggs, RCC’s law enforcement director, and Rudy Locklear, a local magistrate.

Dennis Watts is the Public Information officer for Robeson Community College.