More than 100 adults receive high school diplomas from Wayne Community College
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 7, 2004 2:00 PM
When Edward Brewington Jr. was born in Goldsboro in 1943, he entered a life of deprivation. At age 11, he quit school to help care for his family because his father died.
He picked cotton, was a farm laborer, and remembers being so poor he put cardboard in the bottom of his shoes to cover the holes. His family would dig in the garbage for anything they could find including, sometimes, food.
Soon-to-be graduates of WCC's adult high school program.
At 17, he left. He spent some time in the Army and went to New York City, working in the garment district. He eventually supervised a 60-man crew in the New York sanitation department before he retired and returned to Goldsboro.
Brewington recalled all that at the adult graduation ceremonies at Wayne Community College.
"After all that, why did I come back to school?" he asked the audience.
"I had to do something for me."
He started the program two years ago and was among 106 to receive a diploma; 219 others were awarded General Education Development diplomas.
Each of the graduates could likely tell similar stories of how they fell through the cracks of traditional high school, why they decided a high school diploma was important, and what they had to go through to get it, said Tara Humphries, public information officer at the college.
Brewington gave the salutation at the commencement. He told how he had passed up opportunities because his inability to spell troubled him, and urged others not to do it his way.
"I got by because of the time I lived and the way I lived my life," he said. "Things are different now. Be sure you get what you need to go on with your life."
He said his life has not been an easy one but he has learned in talking with his classmates that many of their lives have not been easy, either.
"We all can overcome things that get in our way," he said. "Every day of life is like opening a door ... But you have been given the keys to go on with your life."
Dr. Ed Wilson, president of the college, told the graduates that the evening marked the culmination of their hard work.
"Commencement exercises do not just happen," he said.
Wilson said Wayne Community seeks to offer something for everyone and responds to the needs of the community by offering programs in fields that have a demand for workers.
"We do this because we're a community college," he said. "We're part of this community and have been for 40 years."
The featured speaker was Capt. Ruth Segres, a Protestant chaplain at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and a former teacher of adult education at Edgecombe Community College.
She told the graduates that their time at Wayne Community had taught them more than just academics; it provided life lessons they will call upon in the future. She said others had made an investment in the students and it was time for them to invest in themselves.
"Earning a degree of any kind is not an easy task," she said. "There were days you felt like quitting, like giving up.
"Look at your degree and be reminded that you have overcome difficult days before and you have the stamina to overcome again."
Sonja Redmon, basic skills director, and Lynn Rabhan, admissions and records coordinator, conferred the diplomas.
Matt Bartlett, Student Government Association president and a candidate for graduation tonight, sang "The Impossible Dream."
Ceremonies for the curriculum program will be held on the college campus tonight at 6:30 p.m.
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