Spotlight: Emily Cantera - Cleveland Community College, Shelby, NC

Spotlight: Emily Cantera

Emily Cantera enrolled at Cleveland Community College in August 2017, after graduating from Crest High School. “I decided to attend CCC directly after high school because I wasn’t mentally or financially ready to attend a four-year university,” she says. “When I learned about the resources and opportunities offered by CCC, I knew that was the right decision for me.”

As the first in her family to attend college, Cantera says it wasn’t easy doing all the research and figuring out the process of applying for college on her own. However, she found CCC’s resources accessible and helpful in navigating the process. While at CCC Cantera participated in the TRIO-SSS program, which provides first-generation students like her extra support in academics and help in navigating the college experience. “My experience [at CCC] was amazing. All of my instructors were very supportive and willing to help me succeed. I also had the privilege of meeting some of the best people during those years.”

Cantera graduated from CCC in 2019 with an Associate in Arts degree and a 4.0 GPA! She transferred to UNC Charlotte and is now graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, with magna cum laude honors. To achieve this status, graduates typically must be ranked within the top 15% or better of the graduating class.

“This experience has not been easy to say the least. There were many obstacles and hardships along the way, but I refused to give up and stayed motivated thanks to my family’s support. I am excited to start this next journey and look forward to what the future holds.”

For those who might think college is not possible, Cantera wants them to know this:

“Making the decision to go to college can be very frightening to many people, but anything is possible if you work hard, stay motivated and determined, and learn to ask for help. . . There will always be classmates willing to help and teachers who encourage you to reach out for assistance.”

Congratulations Emily, for being a first-generation graduate and for finishing magna cum laude! An exciting future is waiting!
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