05/29/11 — School of Engineering honors its first graduating class

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School of Engineering honors its first graduating class

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 29, 2011 1:50 AM

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Students at the Wayne School of Engineering prepare to graduate at commencement ceremonies Friday night. Fifty-six students graduated from the school's first class.

Jerry Gurgainous II felt like he was in a whole new world of opportunities when he stepped through the doors of Wayne School of Engineering for the first time four years ago.

He felt the same way as he walked across the stage at Goldsboro High School Friday night to receive his diploma -- one of the members of the school's Class of 2011.

Gurgainous was one of the 56 students of the first graduating class of Wayne School of Engineering, which is housed at Goldsboro High School.

He said the decision to go to the school had been a good one for him.

"For most kids, this would be a great outlet to come to because there are more opportunities here than most high schools, outlets that you wouldn't normally have in a regular high school. This is a pretty awesome school and an amazing opportunity for me, and I haven't stopped liking it one bit yet."

The graduate plans on going to Wayne Community College for two years then going on to get a degree in electrical engineering.

Career technical education teacher Steven Reese praised the graduates for stepping up and taking a risk to come to the Wayne School of Engineering to get their education.

"The students here are resourceful. You are ready for tomorrow," he said. "You are ready to go and be successful."

Principal Gary Hales echoed that sentiment saying, "You took the chance and the opportunity to grow Wayne School of Engineering into a successful program. I know we have made a difference together."

The graduation speaker was Addie M. Harris Rawls, district court judge for Johnston, Harnett and Lee counties.

The Clayton resident said getting to this point in her career hadn't been easy, just as reaching their goals and dreams wouldn't always be easy for the graduates.

Not only did Ms. Rawls celebrate with the graduates, but she also offered them some advice -- what she called the "three C's of life."

The first is choice.

"You choose which road you are going to take in life -- an easy one or one with obstacles," she told them. "You must not be afraid of obstacles in life and you must set goals. If you make a difficult choice, you can do it, you can achieve."

The second C is commitment. Ms.e Rawls said that if the graduates live their lives with the philsophy that everything is always someone else's fault or problem, then they won't get anywhere.

"You must take the problems and make them yours," she said. "I challenge you to become part of the solution. And commitment involves an investment. How much time are you willing to invest in your future?"

Courage is the third C.

"It takes a courageous person to challenge themselves. It takes a courageous person to take the road less traveled. Be courageous enough to believe you can make a difference."

She congratulated the graduating Class of 2011, but noted that the day's celebration was not an ending -- it's a beginning.

And that next step into the future is what Joseph Smith is looking forward to. He has always known that the day would come when he would walk across that stage to receive his high school diploma. It was only a matter of time, he said.

The decision to go to Wayne School of Engineering was a decision he and his mother made together.

"It was pretty much out on a wing," Smith said. "They decided to have a new school, and it was good for the kids' futures. I've always been one to look out for my future, and I want to go to college. So I took this opportunity to help me blossom."

Smith said that school is school, but Wayne Engineering "pushes you on a higher level to make you want to excel more and give you a better mindset for success."

He plans to go to East Carolina University, but hasn't decided on a major yet.

Connor Lupton has decided to stay close to home and attend classes at Wayne Community College for two years, then transfer to a four-year school. She said a nursing degree might be in her future.

She came to Wayne Engineering School in her junior year.

"I figured they could give me more college opportunities," Miss Lupton said. "They let us do more stuff here and we work in group work."