Craven Community College’s (Craven CC’s) class of 2017 included 585 graduating students ranging from 16 to 86 years of age. As with the wide range of ages, there is a broad diversity of backgrounds, college experiences and future plans. Below there are three stories from graduates who found their future paths during their time at Craven CC.
Newport native Paige Clark would not have graduated from the Welding Technology program had it not been for business and computers. She did not prefer either of these options for her first class at Craven CC. She chose the third option, which was an introduction to cutting processes. Clark said her degree choice was fate. She witnessed welders working a bridge in Havelock and thought to herself, “I want to try that someday.” Her choice wasn’t totally out of character according to Clark. She is an artist and enjoys creating art. Clark graduated with honors. She has applied to the boilermaker union. She is already planning her career in welding, including future plans of opening a welding studio and becoming a welding instructor. “I’d like to push the gender barriers,” said Clark.
Engineering was an early interest of Early College East (ECE) graduate William Graves. He is following in the footsteps of his father and other family members who attended Virginia Tech. The May graduation was on the heels of Graves’ busy time spent in four years of high school. He is graduating with a high school diploma, associate degree in engineering, and associates degree in science. He served in leadership positions in Craven CC’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society chapter and Havelock High School’s National Honor Society (NHS) chapter. Additionally, Graves gave his time to community service projects with NHS and PTK. With NHS, he organized a supplies donation drive at Havelock, New Bern and West Craven high schools for the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina. Graves wanted to give back to this organization which previously supported his family. “I’ve been really lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had and I want to help others,” said Graves. He plans on returning home and hopes to work as a mechanical engineer at Fleet Readiness Center East.
The journey to the moment of graduation for many at Craven CC meant traveling a few miles from where they were born. Josh Htoo, who is Burmese, spent the early years of his life over 8,000 miles away from New Bern. Htoo graduated in 2014 from New Bern High School, where he was the placekicker for the state champion football team. Htoo was contemplating going first into the military or college. He decided college was a good first choice for him as he would like to enter the U.S. Marine Corps as an officer. While at Craven CC, Htoo served in the Student Government Association and TRiO Leadership Club. Htoo participated in the Scholars in Engineering and Science program. He was selected for the North Carolina Community College Leadership Program. Htoo said he always wanted to be a pilot. “As a child in Thailand, I looked into the sky to see the plane contrails,” said Htoo. He will study engineering at his dream college, The Citadel, this fall.
Deborah Kania is the director of communications at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in New Bern Sun Journal.