Early college graduates look to the future

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The top of Dashay Addriel Williams’ cap made it clear she dreams of the future.

Underneath a pair of movie tickets, a strip of film and a movie projector, the phrase “Lights, Camera, Action” framed a clapperboard.

On it, the “production” was graduation. The “director” was Dashay Williams. The “location” was Wilson, N.C. and the date was May 17, 2018.

Dashay was one of 58 Wilson Early College Academy graduates to walk across the stage to receive diplomas Thursday night at Fike High School.

“I’m going to be in film, commercials, anything to get me on the big screen,” Dashay declared. “I’m going to go to William Peace University to major in theater.”

Graduate Erykah Alexandra Moore had high hopes as well. She will be attending North Carolina Central University in the fall.

“I want to double-major in psychology and social work and double-minor in French and writing and I am going to shoot for my master’s in psychology and then shoot for my doctorate in social work by 2025 so I can be a school psychologist,” Erykah said.

Erykah said her feelings about graduating were bittersweet.

“I am going to be leaving most of my friends behind, but I am going to be opening up a new chapter in my life,” Erykah said.

Erykay said attending WECA instead of one of Wilson County’s three traditional high schools was the best decision for her.

“I was able to take college courses so that when I get to a university I will have two years of college under my belt,” Erykah said. “It will save me a lot of time and money as well.”

Graduate Kiara Leshon Thomas also thought her decision to attend WECA was a wise one.

“Absolutely. I think it was one of the best decisions I have made in these past five years,” Kiara said. “It has opened doors for me. I didn’t even think of going to college until I came here. I think it has made me more optimistic.”

Kiara hopes to attend the University of Mount Olive and study music to prepare her as a music teacher.

Graduate Kornelius KaShon Hopkins, who earned an associate of arts degree, plans to go back to Wilson Community College for a semester, then transfer to North Carolina A&T or UNC-Greensboro.

“I want to go major in marketing,” Kornelius said. “In my true career, I want to go into the fashion industry, but for me to prosper the way I want to, it will take marketing and selling myself and things like that.”

Kornelius said he appreciated the intimacy of the early college setting at Wilson Community College.

“We get a bunch of smaller classrooms and we have one-on-one connections with teachers more than you do at regular high schools,” Kornelius said. “Nobody here would say anything negative about any of the teachers here.”

WCC President Tim Wright said “WECA has entwined itself into the fabric of the community college such that the two are inseparable.”

“The world is waiting for you,” said valedictorian Elizabeth Hawley, in her address to the class of 2018. “It is desperately in need of amazing, patient, kind and prodigious people who want to make a difference. I see a room full of people that fit this description, so go and meet the world head-on. Take chances and help make a difference. Use your potential because you have it for a reason.”