No small dreams

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016

By Nancy Warren

Special to the News-Herald

Angela McQuillia’s dream will come true this May, when she graduates from Paul D. Camp Community College with an associate degree in business administration.



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McQuillia is the first recipient of Paul D. Camp Community College’s GED and Adult Education Scholarship, which provides those who recently earned GED credentials with scholarship dollars to earn a PDCCC career studies certificate, associate degrees, and/or certificates in areas ranging from welding to business and technology.

Reaching this goal would not have been possible without her persistence, support from her family and the help of PDCCC guidance counselor Alan Harris and Dean of Student Services Trina Jones.

“I cried when they told me I was awarded the scholarship and all I needed to do was take one class,” she said, “I am a hard worker and overcame a lot of barriers along the way. I worked at my church all my life in leadership roles and raised a family while working different jobs.”

McQuillia attended Lakeland High School, but she and her best friend skipped school almost every day to “just hang out and do nothing,” she said. “I just didn’t want to go to school.”

Someone from the school came to her house to check on her one day, and that was the last straw. “My mother and aunt told me they were fed up. I had to either go back to high school and graduate or get a job if I wanted their help.”

McQuillia was in 12th grade when she gave birth to a son. She was only 18 years old and already had twins; so, she dropped out of school.

That was when her educational journey began. During the next 20 years, McQuillia earned a certificate in cosmetology from Suffolk Beauty Academy, became a personal care aide, worked for a temp service, earned her GED at the Pruden Center, and took classes at Paul D. Camp Community College, as well as another local community college.

The GED scholarship was the final shot in the arm she needed to earn her associate degree.

“Dr. Harris and Dean Jones told me to not give up. They were going to search for a way to help me,” said McQuillia. “I would have never made it if it hadn’t been for them and the challenging teachers at PDCCC.”

She credits Ronette Jacobs, who gave her a good foundation in writing, and Martha Harrison and Dr. Justin Oliver, who ensured she fully understood the basics of math before she moved on. “They cared about me and told me not to quit.”

After taking several courses at another community college, she returned to PDCCC to get the one-on-one help she had experienced before at the Hobbs-Suffolk campus. She knew immediately she was in the right place at the right time.

McQuillia, currently employed as a receiver at a local Walmart distribution center, is an elder at her church. Her twins are now 20, and she has a 17-year-old and 14-year-old at home. Earning her degree will open doors for her, so she is glad she has been focused and determined to succeed.

Her ultimate dream is to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance and own her own business. She believes, “The key to success is to stay faith based. God wants us to keep the family strong, because faithfulness takes away peer pressure and low self-esteem.”

The GED & Adult Education Scholarship is part of PDCCC’s Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative, which has two parts: GED & Adult Education Scholarships and career coaches at high schools in PDCCC’s geographic region.

Both programs are made possible by the generosity of community and business donors.