Jon Johnson and Corey Wallace both graduated in May, and both are now working toward their college degrees and career goals.
While there has been an increase statewide in the overall number of American Indian students who graduate from high school, Native Americans continue to drop out 1.4 times more than other students. American Indian males have the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group in North Carolina.
Jon Johnson, a freshman at N.C. State University, received the prestigious North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholarship. He plans to major in secondary English education so he can have an impact on students and encourage them to read.
Johnson recalls his passion for reading was ignited by a poster in the school hallway that caught his attention as a fourth grader.
“I hope to inspire others as I was by Aristotle’s assertion that ‘Educated men are superior to the uneducated as the living are to the dead,’” Johnson said. “I eventually would also like to become a professor.”
Johnson credits his success to his family, particularly his mother, who he says pushed him to give 110 percent.
As a seventh grade student, Corey Wallace first discovered sports. Corey’s love for baseball helped him stay focused on academics because he wanted to remain eligible to play.
Wallace’s academic work and athletic skills secured him a full academic scholarship to Southeastern Community College in Whiteville, where he also plays baseball.
“My mom and dad always told me have fun with what I chose to do but to never fail to do the right thing,” Wallace explained.
Former Richmond Senior High School head baseball coach David Lee remembers Wallace fondly.
“Corey was an extremely hard worker and was dedicated to being the best baseball player and person he could be,” he said. “It was a privilege to coach such a motivated individual.”
Wallace plans to pursue a career in the computer science field once he graduates from Southeastern.
North Carolina has the largest American Indian population of any state on the East Coast. The State Advisory Council on Indian Education (SACIE) envisions that every American Indian student graduate from academically rigorous and culturally relevant high schools as well-prepared lifelong learners globally competitive for work and post-secondary education.