Cameron Stewart finds way at RCCSep 27, 2022
Several years ago, Cameron Stewart looked at her older sister who went to college, and said, “That will never happen for me.”
But with her mom’s encouragement, she changed her thinking, and not only plans to graduate in July 2023 with an Associate in Arts degree from Rockingham Community College, she is touring university campuses searching for the perfect fit to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Stewart’s mom has been a gigantic part of putting her onto the path to success in life.
“I didn’t have the best public-school experience. I had ADHD, and a lot of teachers told me I would not make it to high school, or I wouldn’t even need a dream of college,” Stewart said.
“That was a big turning point, and my mom started homeschooling me. She personally helped me more, and that was something I really appreciated. It definitely is the reason I graduated from high school. She made me work harder,” she said.
“When I was homeschooled, I was taken away from the people that said I couldn’t do it,” Stewart continued. “I came here to campus after hearing about the CCP (College and Career Promise) program.”
Through CCP, high school students can earn college credits. By the time Stewart finished high school at home, she had also completed a half year at RCC.
But she was still scared about entering the world of higher education.
“I was always intimidated by college, and intimidated to come to RCC. But everyone was so welcoming and so kind. It’s not something I would have imagined could happen. I am very blessed,” Stewart said.
“There’s so much about RCC I love. I love the teachers here, I love the school in general,” she said.
Her favorite instructor is Deirdre Kearney, a member of RCC’s History faculty.
“I had her during COVID, so I tried to show up during her office hours. She’d give me book advice about what to read to help me,” Stewart said. “She was one of my first teachers. I didn’t even know how to use email when I got here, so she helped. And when I was nervous about writing my first five-page paper, she reminded me to not forget about the works cited page.
“When I told her that I have ADHD, she asked if I had ever thought about going to see Deborah Wodhanil,” Stewart said.
Wodhanil is the Accessibility Services counselor for RCC. In this capacity, she confidentially works with students with documented disabilities so the students can fully access the RCC experience. Finding Stewart eligible for services, the two met to determine how to accommodate Stewart’s ADHD in the college setting. Wodhanil then shared this information with Stewart’s instructors.
“I didn’t know there was someone to talk to,” Stewart said.
“Deborah is the sweetest person. She told me, ‘You do realize, it doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be this hard,’” Stewart said. “I was struggling to get some due dates in and struggling with paying attention because I have such a short attention span.”
Stewart also developed a heart condition, and since she already had a connection with Wodhanil, the counselor was able to help accommodate that as well.
Even with having to work extra hard academically, Stewart was intrigued by messages that Student Life was sending to students about activities and events on campus.
“I’m the girl who checks her emails. I kept wanting to go to things. I saw SGA (Student Government Association) and it reminded me of when I was in the Teen Library Council, so I joined last fall. And then I started helping out at volleyball games,” Stewart said. “I started getting opportunities to help with festivities. I kept helping and coming to events and I loved it.”
Stewart was chosen to attend an SGA conference along with RCC’s SGA president and vice president. She immediately knew she wanted to be involved with the group hosting the conference, the North Carolina Comprehensive Community College Student Government Association – or N4CSGA for short.
Not only was she accepted after an application and interview, she was then elected parliamentarian – the same office she now holds with RCC’s SGA.
Stewart carries the constitutions of both SGAs around with her, in case others need to know about them or their operational guidelines. In one instance, Stewart advised the SGA treasurer on exactly what information she needed to put in a report.
“It’s challenging and I really love it. RCC helped me change from someone who wasn’t as good at being in college,” Stewart said.
“I like the student life here, it beats a lot of other colleges. I have to look at other community colleges because I’m in the N4CSGA, and I compare them all the time,” she said. “Sometimes I see something amazing and think I need to look into it for my college, and other times I think RCC does things better. Our deli is better, and our athletics are better. It’s cool to see what RCC has, especially because we’re a small college.”
Stewart was encouraged to become involved with NC4SGA by Dr. Bob Lowdermilk, vice president for Student Development, and Maggie Murray, former director of Student Life.
“They both really encouraged me to want to step up,” she said.
For anyone on the fence about college, Stewart recommends coming to RCC.
“Don’t be intimidated, just try. It’s easy to say it, but it’s hard to do it. I remember being scared starting here, hoping I wouldn’t mess it up. But everyone was so nice, I thought, ‘I can do this,’” she said.
“Just do it. Show up on campus. Pay attention to the opportunities around you. I was someone who had probably no hope of doing what I’m doing now,” Stewart said.
“If I look at the child I used to be, and myself now, I don’t know how it happened. But this place made it happen,” she said.
~By Gerri Hunt, RCC Director of Public Information