Featured photo: Headshot of Shannon Smith, provided by the subject.
Marketing & Communications Dept.
At the Blue Ridge Community College Fall 2023 Commencement Ceremony, Shannon Smith walked across the stage and completed her first-ever graduation.
Smith performed well in school throughout her childhood, but a rough home life eventually led her to drop out of high school; she later went on to earn both a GED and an Adult High School diploma, but neither had graduation ceremonies. Now, Smith is thrilled to be the first in her family to earn a college degree, one that has been 10 years in the making.
“I always tell people going back to school is well worth it,” Smith said. “It’s especially valuable mentally, to feel accomplished.”
Smith earned her transfer degree associate in arts from Blue Ridge; she plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in business before going on to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees.
“I am also a very big advocate for mental health awareness. I want others to understand that it is not a made-up disease and there should not be stigma around it. Mental health is a very important part of living and having a successful and happy life,” Smith said.
While Smith knew she wanted to do something in the field of psychology, she struggled to narrow her focus.
“Through talking with the counselors, Blue Ridge has made me become more sure about what I want to do. They guided me to take the courses that work best for my goals, the instructors have opened my eyes to different worlds of learning,” Smith said.
Smith described Blue Ridge as the right first step for anyone looking for small class sizes, schedule flexibility, and financial affordability. As a working mother, Smith needed each of those aspects to find success in higher education. She encouraged other adults and parents to look into ways Blue Ridge can boost education and careers.
“Life can be super busy especially if you have children and your jobs. Just don’t give up. Do it for you. It’s such a wonderful feeling,” Smith said. “It’s been a great journey; I’m really going to miss being at Blue Ridge.”
Learn more about Blue Ridge Community College’s robust transfer program, including six transfer degree options and multiple guaranteed admission partner universities, at www.blueridge.edu/transfer.