Adult Learners – Student Stories

University students in North Carolina who returned to school as adults talk about why they decided to go back and what that experience was like for them.

Regina Dudley-Mack

After repeatedly getting turned down for positions at work, Regina Dudley-Mack finally asked why and realized her lack of a college degree was holding her back. She enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s 49er Finish adult learner degree program. While she originally went back to school to position herself for a promotion, she realized the undertaking had an even more important effect: boosting her confidence and sense of self worth.

Tonya Dixon

Tonya Dixon left NC A&T in 1991 after her grandmother—her support—passed away and various family issues arose. Now that she’s back in school through the Aggies at the Goal Line adult learner program, her daughter, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, provides her the support she needs to study hard and stay positive. After she finishes her bachelor’s degree, she hopes to earn her master’s as well—and then apply for a better paying job.

James Williams

More than 25 years after James Williams left the University of North Carolina at Charlotte early, he looked into finishing up his degree. It turned out, he was only 19 credit hours and two required classes short. “Graduating is more satisfying than I had imagined that it would be,” Williams said. “I’m proof that it’s doable.”

Vashone Eaton

When Vashone Eaton got pregnant in 2009, she dropped out of North Carolina Central University because having a baby, being a wife, working full-time, and taking classes felt like too much. Feeling unhappy and unsettled several years later, she re-enrolled through the End Zone Initiative. “It’s been challenging, but it’s been worth it,” she said. “I’ve learned my strengths. I’ve learned my weaknesses. I’m just trying to keep my eye on the prize.”

Isaac Smith

Soon after he retired, Vietnam veteran Isaac Smith decided to finish the degree he’d started at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University back in 1962. With a full load of classes in the Aggies at the Goal Line online adult learner program, Smith has earned mostly A’s. The North Carolina A&T tradition runs strong in his family, and he’s looking forward to December 2017, when he plans to graduate—and become a part of that tradition as well.