PDCCC alumna rises above overcast days
Published 10:03 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light,” are words attributed to Greek philosopher Aristotle.
Easier said than done.
Yet Eneida Smallwood found that the light was inside her all along. And she used that as she set out to turn disappointment into a degree at Paul D. Camp Community College.
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“I heard a lot of people talking about the college,” she said. “I decided to check it out for myself. I wanted to return to school to finish what I had started.”
Smallwood, now 28, had attended other colleges such as Norfolk State University and Pensacola Junior College in Florida. But life kept getting in the way of finishing her education.
“I was tired of the letdowns, disappointments and tears. Along my journey, I’ve lost people who were very dear to me and the biggest part of my support system — that one was my dad,” she said.
His death seemed to be all that mattered as she began to withdraw from her environment.
“I gave up on many things, including school,” she said. I wanted to quit my job, life and being a parent.” But Smallwood knew she was needed by her mom and daughter and she knew what her dad would tell her to do.
“I started remembering how proud my dad was of me and how important graduating would be for my life and career,” she recalled.
As a full-time parent and worker, she still completed her associate degree in general studies in 2018 and the career studies certificate in early childhood the following year, graduating summa cum laude in May 2019.
Smallwood was inducted into the Omega Zeta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and to the National Society of Leadership and Success, where she was the only student in the college’s chapter to earn Advanced and Executive Leadership Certification by completing a number of additional modules and projects. Smallwood also served as the chapter secretary of NSLS and was selected to deliver the student success speech at the induction ceremony.
Her advisor and professor noted that despite obstacles, Eneida’s commitment and determination were impressive. “She has this exuberant spirit and whenever you see her, she always has a smile and a hello,” said Toni Johnson, who is also director of the college’s center in Smithfield. She added that it was Smallwood’s perseverance that led to the attainment of her student’s goals.
“Her leadership abilities and enthusiasm for her classes often showed in her interactions with her peers,” said Johnson. “I know her future is bright because she was able to grow as a student and person at Camp. I am elated to have had the opportunity to work with Eneida.”
Smallwood plans to continue her education to complete her early childhood and business administration degrees. After working eight years as a crew leader at Smithfield Packing, she has recently been hired as a USDA food inspector.
She said that a number of people in her life were responsible for giving her the strength she needed to get through her hard times and keep working toward her degree. “My father William, my daughter Leiyanna, my mother Jannet, and my godmother Denise, have given me so much support,” said Smallwood. “I had friends and family that had my back during the times that I shut them out, and they were still there to cheer me on even through the darkness.”
She also noted that Johnson is an “amazing advisor,” who helped her even on her days off, and former Camp Academic Advisor Nicole Jordan is also “incredible,” getting her through some tough times with just the right words. Other faculty members helped along the way as well, lifting her up when she needed a boost.
“It is because of all these people that I am a success story of this college and an inductee of NSLS,” she said in her speech for the ceremony. “I would like to thank everyone that helped me, encouraged me, and believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, because without them, I wouldn’t be before you today sharing my story.”
She had some words of wisdom to share with new students starting out in college. “Keep your head up and keep pushing,” she said. “I’ve met some incredible people at Paul D. Camp Community College. You have instructors that care about you and believe in you, too, more than you can imagine. If they see you wanting to help yourself, then they will push you through to the end.”
Visit www.pdc.edu for more information.