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Student Success: Roberto Reyes

Apr 30, 2021

Asthma. It is no trip in the park to suffer from that condition, especially for a child.

Growing up in Chicago and moving to Eden as soon as he hit his teen years, Roberto Reyes has always lived with it. But he never let it stop him.

By the time he was out of high school, Reyes was working at Elizabeth’s Pizza and developing a big dream.

“I was going to open my own restaurant,” he said. So he enrolled in Rockingham Community College and obtained his Associate Degree in Business Management.

He was dating his wife Kristin Richardson Reyes at the time, and she was in RCC’s Respiratory Therapy program.

“I’ve been dealing with respiratory therapists my whole life, and I helped her while she was in school. I saw it was so cool. I decided to come back for Respiratory Therapy because it’s really interesting,” Reyes said.

Roberto Reyes puts a tube down a mannequin's throat during Respiratory Therapy class.
After dealing with asthma his entire life, Roberto Reyes is now in RCC’s Respiratory Therapy program. His wife already completed the program.

“I never thought I’d ever be near the medical field,” he added with a chuckle. “But it’s payback, so I can do for others what RTs did for me, and help children out.”

Plus, Reyes has deepened his connection with his wife.

“Now when she comes home from work and she tells me about her day, we can talk. We get each other now. It’s helped get our stress out,” he said. “With clinicals, I can go talk to her about my experience that day, and she can help me out.”

He has advice to anyone interested in the Respiratory Therapy field: “There’s a lot of patient interaction and you truly have to care for them in order to see good results. Have the patient in mind, always.”

And he’s quick to recommend Rockingham Community College.

“I love RCC. I know this campus… I was also at Rockingham Early College High School, so I’ve been here quite a bit,” Reyes said. “Everyone is great to me, and the staff is very helpful – they are always there to help you out if you need it.”

Reyes continues to work full-time at Elizabeth’s, and said a scholarship through the RCC Foundation has really helped him in the pursuit of his goal.

Cindy Johnson Scholarship

The Eden community lost a fantastic citizen when Cindy Johnson unexpectedly died of a heart attack in August 2013.

A 1973 Morehead High School graduate, she spent 35 years at Morehead Memorial Hospital. There, she was director of the Cardiopulmonary and Cardiovascular Department, Cardio Rehab, and Sleep Lab. She was co-chair of the hospital’s United Way campaign, and a member of the hospital foundation’s board and the 20 Plus Club. She also served as coordinator of the March of Dimes Campaign and Walk.

Cindy and her husband Skip have a connection to RCC – their daughter Sandy, who has spina bifida, attended RCC until complications caused problems with her vision in 2007.

Three years after the loss of Cindy, Reece Pyrtle Jr. established the Cindy Johnson Memorial Scholarship at RCC, awarding $500 per semester to a Respiratory Therapy student who attended a local high school and held a 2.5 grade-point average.

“Cindy and Skip were close friends of mine, and Cindy was instrumental in respiratory therapy at Morehead Hospital,” Pyrtle said.

“I was a county commissioner, and I took my commissioner’s money and used it to start the scholarship,” he continued. “I went around to other friends of Cindy and Skip for donations.”

He said all he did was plant the seed money for the scholarship, and sends out text messages each year soliciting funds, collects the money, and sends it to the RCC Foundation.

“We’re just a community of friends. People know Skip throughout the community, not just because he’s retired from Eden Police, but because he’s so involved in everything,” Pyrtle said. “Starting the scholarship was an easy thing to do, and is perpetuated through checks I receive from contributors, made out to the RCC Foundation. It’s an excellent way to give back.”

For information on RCC’s programs of study, including Respiratory Therapy:


For information on enrolling at RCC:


For information on available scholarships:


For information on establishing a scholarship or a sponsorship

336-342-4261 ext. 2201



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


Monday to Thursday:
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm


336-349-9986 (fax)