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Grace Gross returns after 15 years

Dec 29, 2022

Grace Gross was a student at Rockingham Community College a decade and a half ago. Then life happened.

“I thought I had to go to college; it was the societal next step. I had no plan, and then making money took precedence over college, to be honest,” said the Wentworth resident.

Then life happened again. Fifteen years with a local company came to an end when the company restructured and she left her job as operations and logistics manager. She started working for Weight Watchers, but was laid off during the coronavirus pandemic when members stopped meeting.

Gross thought about college again, and enrolled at RCC with plans to earn an Associate in Arts in December 2022. In fall 2023, she will pursue Public Health and Nutrition through a part-time, online program at UNC-Greensboro.

Student standing in front of pine trees at RCC.
Grace Gross returned to RCC after a 15-year hiatus, and is set to earn her two-year Associate in Arts degree this month.

“I want to help people. I would like to create meal plans for bariatric patients, or do something with child nutrition, so I can help them not have to go through (being overweight and its complications)” she said. “I WAS 170 pounds when I was 9 years old, and I was over 200 pounds in middle school. About five or six years ago, I lost 130 pounds through diet and exercise.”

While she clearly has the motivation to be successful, she said it’s not easy being an older college student.

“It’s tough coming back because I have kids, responsibilities, and housework. One night, I went to my son’s football game, wrote a paper, and did laundry. And I’m in class with a lot of my son’s friends,” she said.

“I love it here though. I’m a little older, and I feel like I’m getting more out of it now,” Gross continued. “I have good relationships with my teachers, and relationships through my work study job in the Admissions department. It’s school, but it doesn’t feel like school. I feel like I come in and see friends.”

Gross was hard pressed to choose her favorite class over the last two years at RCC.

“Stacey Tatum made Spanish I a lot of fun. I have an old brain, and learning a new language was tough on this old girl, but it was fun,” she said.

“And Deirdre Kearney’s history class was great, and she showed some interesting documentaries. We really connected,” Gross continued. “Dr. Alana Baker’s English classes had a little history in them. I like her and her delivery, material and reading. All three of these instructors are so smart.”

She was able to schedule classes around her life, such as picking up her kids from school. “But coming to college has absolutely been well worth it,” she said.

Gross encourages everyone to come to RCC. “Just go ahead and do it. Last time I was here, I felt like I had to do it; this time, I chose to do it, and I appreciate it so much more.”

She advises students – both young and old – to “utilize every bit of time to study. Make yourself do it, because there are so many other options, so many other obligations.”

And clearly, Gross is putting college first: going into her last semester at RCC, she held a 3.58 grade-point average.

~By Gerri Hunt, Director of Public Information


Rockingham Community College
PO Box 38
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375


Monday to Thursday:
8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm


336-349-9986 (fax)