[Clinton, N.C.] – Jenna McLamb is a recent Career & College Promise (CCP) program graduate from Sampson Community College (SCC) who became the first CCP student to earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Teacher Preparation, in addition to her high school diploma from Midway High School (MHS).
Graduating with honors, two degrees, and an SCC Outstanding Student Award in May 2023, McLamb began the CCP program back in 2020, after encouragement from school advisors and her brother, who had also been a part of the program. In her eyes, CCP was a great way to “get some college classes under my belt during high school” while also preparing her for transfer to Campbell University to double major in Elementary and Special Education.
Initially embarking on the Associate of Arts degree pathway, McLamb explained that Dr. Susan Baxter, Division Chair of Education, Business, and Human Services Technology programs at SCC, introduced her to the Teacher Preparation degree after hearing of her immense love of teaching and working with children. Though at the time, the program was newer and there were no CCP students enrolled, McLamb decided to take a leap of faith– one that paid off immensely in the end.
“I am so glad I enrolled in the Teacher Preparation program because it has given me insight into the teaching world and all it has to offer,” she voiced. “Though I was nervous about taking college classes as a high school student and worried about whether I could handle the workload, as time went on, I felt much more confident. I got the opportunity to dig into the course work, meet new teachers, and make new friends. My favorite part has been expanding my high school knowledge into these college classes to help ensure I am giving my best.”
As she completed her coursework, McLamb also remained highly involved in her local church and worked at a local boutique and consignment shop, which she mentioned, is where she spent most of her time. Though balancing it all was stressful at times, McLamb expressed that her experience at SCC was incredibly beneficial and ended up teaching her that “hard things are truly worth it.”
She elaborated, “The late nights completing assignments, the stress from not understanding some assignments, and the time spent studying for tests was all worth it when I walked across that stage to receive my diploma. Since I’ve completed my associate degree, I should only have to attend Campbell for two years, as opposed to three because I have the credentials built up. This gives me the opportunity to jumpstart my career and begin teaching at a younger age. Having the opportunity to complete the classes and obtain my associate degree was worth it in the end.”
Carlie McPhail, SCC Career Coach for MHS, was an advisor to McLamb throughout her time in the CCP program. In a quote, McPhail personally remarked on McLamb’s success within her area of study, praising her accomplishments, work ethic, and leadership qualities— wishing her a prosperous career in the future.
“Jenna is our first CCP student at SCC to complete an Associate in Arts Teacher Preparation,” explained McPhail. “Her commitment to education and relentless pursuit of knowledge has set her apart, making her an inspiring role model for her peers and all those who know her. The dedication and hard work she has put in has laid the foundation for a rewarding journey as an educator. It has been a pleasure knowing Jenna during her time with the CCP program, I wish her the best of luck and much success.”
Another faculty member who contributed immensely to McLamb’s success at SCC was Dr. Susan Baxter, whom McLamb expressly wished to thank. Not only was she the instructor and mentor who had helped McLamb “the most” during her time at the College, but she had also assisted her brother years earlier as well. According to McLamb, without Baxter’s encouragement and initial introduction to the Teacher Preparation program, she would have never enrolled or became the first CCP student to complete the degree.
McLamb lavished, “Dr. Baxter has been the person I could go to for anything… questions, college recommendation letters, or even help on homework. I would not have gotten through my years at SCC if it was not for her.”
Throughout her collegiate journey, McLamb also found encouragement and inspiration from her mother, who began as a teacher and now works as a local middle school guidance counselor. Growing up visiting her mother’s school events and after-school meetings, McLamb saw the vast impact she was making on her students and coworkers, and desired to do the same in the future.
“I would also like to thank my mom,” McLamb continued. “Needless to say, she has been there as I have worked through college applications, scholarships, and she has helped me remain calm through it all. But I also hope to leave as great of an impact on my students as she does on hers.”
When asked how she felt about becoming the first CCP student to graduate with an A.A. Teacher Preparation degree, McLamb stated that it feels “incredibly good” to know she was able to accomplish something “big” like that. However, she acknowledged that without the help of Dr. Baxter and several family members, all of it would not have been possible.
McLamb concluded, “I am glad to have learned about this program and what all it entails because I can now tell others about it. I have had several people come up to me and ask about the teacher preparation program because they had no idea it even existed. This program has prepared me in more ways possible for when I attend college in the Fall. I am thankful for SCC and excited for what the future holds.”
Sampson CC is proud of Jenna! The College congratulates her on becoming the first CCP student to graduate from the Teacher Preparation Program and hopes others will continue to follow in her footsteps. SCC believes she will do great things to help students succeed.
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.