DUBLIN – Bladen Community College student Willie Corbett has been awarded the highest award a community college student can receive. The North Carolina Community College System has named Corbett as the recipient of the 2016 Dallas Herring Achievement Award.
Corbett’s story is poignant.
“I dropped out of high school and was living the wild life, I guess you could say,” remembers the quadriplegic, “until the car accident in 1991. I was paralyzed from the neck down. That event caused me to prioritize my life.”
Corbett’s journey began when he decided to go back to school. He bought a study guide that prepared him for the General Educational Development test. In 2012, he enrolled in the Computer Information Technology Program at BCC.
“The hardest part of earning the degree was typing my English essays and coding. I used a mouth-stick to tap the computer keys one-at-a-time. It was a painstaking process,” he remembers.
Corbett’s first BCC contact, Tommy Rains, coordinator for Testing, Disabilities and Veterans Services, was impressed with Corbett’s commitment to change his future.
“How many of us would have the determination and strength of character to overcome, while maintaining a positive, cheerful attitude?” remarks Rains.
The Computer Information Technology curriculum provided an opportunity for Corbett to take online classes and work at his own pace. In 2015, Corbett received his diploma.
He councils others, “Never run into a stop sign. Always find a way around it.”
Barry Priest, vice-president of Student Services comments, “Each of the 58 colleges in the North Carolina system submits a nominee for this prestigious award. Mr. Corbett is the ‘lone’ selection for this award. The North Carolina Community College System enrolls over 780,000 students annually and is the third largest community college system in the nation. This is the ultimate recognition for a community college student.”
Corbett admits the accomplishment was not easy. “It was sheer determination that got me through,” he states.
That determination has earned Mr. Corbett the highest award a community college student in North Carolina can receive.
His mentor, Tommy Rains, remarks “Students like Mr. Corbett are the reason I love my job. I share his example often to inspire other students.”
For information about Bladen Community College, call 910-879-5500.
Cathy Kinlaw is the public information officer for Bladen Community College.