Sandhills Celebrates Special Graduate
BY KAREN MANNING
Sandhills Community College
Every time Justin Flinchum, of Robbins, is told "you won't or you can't," he proves them wrong.
Flinchum, 24, is the first student in the history of Sandhills Community College to start in the Succeed compensatory education program and go on to graduate with a general education development (GED) diploma. He graduated in May.
Several years ago, Flinchum started attending Sandhills in the Succeed program, learning beginning literacy.
"We give intellectually challenged students opportunities to grow and go, and Justin took the ball and ran with it," says David Hale, basic skills coordinator.
Showing academic potential, Flinchum soon began attending adult basic education (ABE) classes. He quickly progressed through the ABE program, gaining the academic skills and self-confidence necessary to advance into the GED program.
In the GED program, Flinchum dedicated himself to success. He studied the five core subjects necessary to complete the program, facing every challenge with stubborn determination. While it took him two and a half years, he never gave up on his to goal to graduate.
"We graduate many students every year," said Vanessa Galloway, coordinator of basic skills. "However, Justin is unique in that he came through compensatory education. Many students overcome obstacles. Justin's success is even more profound because he has special circumstances that most of our students do not have.
"Justin is amazing. It has been truly motivational to watch this young man, with genuine academic struggles, persevere. He aspires to attend college and major in communications and eventually become a sportscaster and cover sports news. I wouldn't be surprised if he does just that.
"He doesn't quit. That's why I admire him so much. He wants to prove to others - but mainly to himself - that he can do it. His attitude is, 'don't tell me that I can't do it.'"
The college celebrates Flinchum's success.
"This shows that Sandhills Community College's Basic Skills is doing what it is supposed to do," Hale said.
"He always dreamed more for himself," said Wanda Sweeney, one of Flinchum's GED instructors. "He has an innate knack for numbers and was in the top math group from the very beginning. He is also great with baseball statistics and enjoys predicting football winners every year.
"Justin is a role model for perseverance. He passed all of his classes. One by one, he passed each of the five GED tests, first in social studies and math, then science, language arts/reading, and writing. He needed just 50 points to earn his GED. In April, he retook the social studies test and successfully earned his GED."
There are more students who are following in Flinchum's footsteps, and Sandhills looks forward to providing the tools, resources, instruction and help that are available to each and every student.
"Now, I can be a role model," Flinchum said.
Developmentally disabled adults in Moore and Hoke counties are served through Sandhills Community College's compensatory education classes. The program offers free classes that are designed to teach essential academic and life skills to intellectually challenged adults.
The primary focus is to better equip students to become independent and to enable them to live successful lives in their community. >
Anyone needing more information about compensatory education at Sandhills Community College can contact Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org or (910) 695-3933. To learn about ABE or GED programs, contact Martha Bergman at email@example.com or (910) 695-3784.
Karen Manning is director of marketing and public relations for Sandhills Community College.
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