Changing lives at Paul D. Camp

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Two Suffolk residents who are both students at Paul D. Camp Community College and who both have earned paid internships at NASA demonstrate the importance of never giving up when it comes to seeking opportunities to improve one’s life and the power of community colleges to help in that process of improvement.

Jeremy Williams and Jesse Pruden were selected to participate in paid NASA research experiences this summer through the Virginia Space Grant Consortium’s STEM Takes Flight Build-Fly-Learn NASA Research Experiences for Virginia’s Community College Student program.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about these gentlemen is that they are so widely separated in age, yet they both find themselves with the potential of launching new careers, spurred by the educational experience they are gaining at Paul D. Camp.

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Williams, 23, is, perhaps, a more traditional community college student. He is in his first year at PDCCC, working toward an associate degree in science, and he hopes eventually to continue his education at Hampton University, where he wants to earn a bachelor’s degree on his way to becoming a marine biologist.

The NASA program will give him a chance to help with surveys of marsh vegetation and endangered species around NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Pruden, on the other hand, is 51, married and has two children. He returned to college two years ago to pursue an associate degree in industrial technology, with a minor in welding. He chose to go back to school to expand his employment opportunities.

Pruden will participate in a mapping project at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, and he expects the experience there, coupled with his associate degree, will avail him of new employment opportunities that he never could have expected otherwise.

The two men have very different career paths ahead of them, but both can look back at their community college experience as a catalyst for new opportunities.

Congratulations to both, and congratulations to PDCCC for helping to open these doors. This is a great example of the way that community colleges can change lives, regardless of the age of the student.