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Community College, the Smart Choice

When Emmanuel Wallace came to Cleveland Community College after high school, he wasn’t excited about it. His friends were going to big universities like Duke, NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill. He felt like he was stuck in Cleveland County.

Even though he wasn’t happy about enrolling in a community college, he still wanted to do well. He decided to make new friends and get to know the faculty and staff at CCC. “I had a goal, to not feel inadequate by the time I graduated, but rather, to feel accomplished,” Emmanuel said. “I quickly realized Cleveland Community College was a place where I could accomplish this.”

Emmanuel made that statement at his graduation ceremony in 2016. It was part of his speech as president of the Student Government Association. During his two years at CCC, he realized that attending community college was a smart choice.

Students who transfer to a university and earn a more advanced degree, as Emmanuel did, spend less money because they’ve already completed the general education courses at a much lower cost. High school juniors and seniors can even take classes for free.

Now, eight years later, Emmanuel still believes in what community colleges have to offer. He knows that when you’re a young person just out of high school, it can feel like you’re missing out by not attending a big university. But, as Emmanuel learned, that’s not the case. CCC offers opportunities to get involved in clubs, organizations and sports. Plus, you have instructors who get to know you and want to see you succeed.

After graduating from CCC, Emmanuel transferred to UNC-Charlotte. He graduated summa cum laude in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Power and Energy Systems Concentration. He also started two businesses. He works as a cinematographer, editor and marketer at the company he co-founded, Renegade Content Creation. In addition, he owns Emmanuel Wallace Film, LLC where he creates timeless wedding films.

Emmanuel used all that he learned at CCC to succeed at UNC-Charlotte and in his businesses. “CCC helped me gain the confidence to set high goals for myself during my time there and after graduation. I was exposed to some amazing people, companies, and places while I was at CCC. I was able to cultivate my leadership skills through the Student Government Association.”

Emmanuel urges students who are just starting their college journey to consider all the options. “As a high school student, it’s hard to recognize the value of community college,” he says. “Starting your higher education at a community college allows you more time to figure out your life, what career you want to enter, all while saving you from potentially crippling debt many of my peers and friends have accumulated. . .The people at CCC want to help you succeed and take steps to make it a reality.”

At CCC, staff and faculty don’t just help students develop skills for a career; they help students create a better life.