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Student Success: Julie Morton

Sep 30, 2021

With no formal education, she earned her HS Equivalency Diploma and is now enrolled in college

Like many students in their first year of college, Julie Morton is trying to decide what program she wants to study.

The Rockingham Community College freshman started out in Information Technology after speaking with her advisor, then changed to Medical Office Administration (MOA) after a conversation with the program director.

“I’m still exploring my options while I’m at RCC, and I’m not sure what path I’m going to take,” she said.

But Morton is collecting some good experience for the MOA field – and work experience in general. She landed a job in RCC’s Financial Aid office, hired the same day she applied for a campus Work Study position.

Morton’s journey to this point was rather rocky.

“I was taken out of school in the second grade to be homeschooled, and due to circumstances beyond my control, my education was not kept up with. I really had no formal education after second grade,” she said.

RCC president and a student on graduation day.
Julie Morton is all smiles as she holds up a pennant after accepting her High School Equivalency Diploma from RCC President Dr. Mark Kinlaw on July 22, 2021.

Eventually, she took her future into her own hands, and enrolled in RCC’s College and Career Readiness program in December 2020, through which she earned her High School Equivalency Diploma (HiSET). She graduated in July 2021, and immediately enrolled as a college student this fall.

“I definitely spent a lot of time thinking that I wasn’t smart enough or that I wasn’t going to be able to do it,” Morton said. “I finally just told myself I had to do it. Once I came here for my HiSET, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m coming back here for college. This is where I want to be.’”

But it wasn’t easy.

“All of my peers had all of these experiences that I didn’t have, and I’m sure they know much more than I know, but I’m trying to stop comparing myself to everyone else because everyone’s path in life is different,” she said.

Morton received some advice from a couple of people to not mention to her college instructors that she had not been to school. But in another show of her own decision-making capabilities, she ignored their advice.

“Why should I put myself at a disadvantage, because they’re going to look at me and say, ‘Oh, you should know this,’” she reasoned. “It’s definitely a learning curve and something to get used to.”

But Morton is surely settling into her college classes, evidenced by a State Employees Credit Union “People Helping People” Scholarship she just received.

“I had no idea that I got the scholarship, until Malerie (Filiault in the Financial Aid office) called me to ask a question about,” she said.

Morton’s favorite part about being at RCC is the community.

“I feel like everybody cares about everybody. I’ve loved everyone I’ve met, and I like how everyone is accepting of how different we all are,” she said. “I want to be creative, but I feel like everyone is kind of putting me into a box and saying this is what you should do. But at the end of the day, I need to evaluate what I want and pursue that,” she Morton said. “My dad has always told me that if you find a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s just self-exploration, and what better place to do that than college?”


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


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