Blatchley named Outstanding StudentJun 22, 2022
During Rockingham Community College’s May graduation ceremony, Dayahna Blatchley received the 2021-2022 Outstanding Student Award – RCC’s highest recognition each year.
Faculty nominates students for the award who have a grade point average of at least 3.25. The nominees are then interviewed by a faculty committee.
Blatchley has come a long way in just a few short years. Relocating to North Carolina during middle school and eventually settling in Reidsville, she took a gap year after finishing high school, unsure of what to do next.
“I was trying so hard to figure out what I wanted to do. I went with a hobby, horticulture,” she said. She wasn’t sure if that was a sustainable future career, but she enrolled in the Agribusiness Technology program at Rockingham Community College in fall 2020.
“Then I realized it was more career-based, and I could make something out of it,” she said. “I thought it could be really fun, learning business and growing plants – the best of both worlds.”
After starting school, she applied for a position as a student ambassador. She had just left a hostess job at a pizza joint, so she was excited about the prospect of having a bit of an income again. The day of her interview, before she left the Whitcomb Student Center, she was approached about joining the Student Government Association.
“I said yes before I even knew what the SGA was,” Blatchley said with a chuckle. An hour later, she was hired as a student ambassador. It was a big day for her.
It wasn’t long before Blatchley was elected SGA vice president, at which time she resigned from being an ambassador due to time constraints. A few months later the SGA president resigned, launching Blatchley into that position – which also included serving as the one student representative on the RCC Board of Trustees.
“It’s been awesome. It feels so good to do stuff, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It keeps me busy and I like the things I am doing.”
Blatchley continued to excel in her classwork. The first summer in the Ag program includes work-based learning, so she spent those months at Big Apple Farm Supply in Reidsville.
“Technically I was labeled as a cashier, but I got to run around. I was introduced to different feeds, chemicals, different ways of handling situations. I chilled in the background and saw how professionals answered questions – like why tomatoes aren’t growing. It was a wonderful experience.”
Starting classes that fall, the Ag program director asked several questions about her summer job, and she was surprised that she knew the answers.
“I’m a hands-on learner, so it was cool to get out in the field and learn,” she said.
As she progressed in the Ag program, she considered transferring to NC A&T through an articulation agreement the university has with RCC, and pursuing landscape design.
But then she received a two-year scholarship from the State Employees Credit Union. She chose to stay at RCC after she received her Associate in Applied Science in Agriculture Technology in May 2022. She was the first-ever graduate of that program.
She began looking at other paths to pursue at RCC, not wanting to waste the rest of the scholarship.
“When I was younger, another passion was medical work,” Blatchley said. Her friend recommended Nursing, but she opted for Medical Office Administration.
“I already work on computers all day, and this is something I could easily do. I looked into careers, and you pretty much get your associate degree, graduate, and get a job in the field,” she said. “That’s my aim right now. I’m so thrilled to do it. It’s a big weight off my chest, finding something I can make a career out of. Once I have the money and availability, I can go back for landscape design.”
Blatchley said her first two years at RCC have been amazing.
She could not decide which class has been her favorite: “That’s a hard question. the program is so well planned out, with such a variety of good classes. I remember Animal Science was extremely interesting. Ethics makes you think. Biology was awesome. I’m more of a hands-on person, so the labs were extremely fun for me.”
“It’s so strange and surreal because so many opportunities have come knocking at my door. It’s not anything that high school prepares you for. The instructors understand that you have a life outside of campus.” Blatchley said. “Everybody at is so personable. The professors, the staff … you can sit down and have an actual conversation. I’ve gotten so much help from people I never thought I’d have a connection with.”
Those relationships will continue to grow, and experiences will continue to pop up as she moves through the Medical Office Administration program.
Blatchley already has about a semester’s worth of classes out of the way for that program since she took them for Agribusiness.
Nevertheless, she is jumping right in, taking a few new courses this summer. And she returned to her job as a student ambassador for now, helping RCC’s Admissions team with new student orientations and campus tours. It’s nice to see Blatchley all over campus this summer, and the RCC community looks forward to her being with us for a few more semesters.