HAMLET – Richmond Community College has offered a degree in Human Services Technology program since 1986, providing students with the skills needed to work in mental health, education, family services, social services, rehabilitation, corrections and community outreach. Three of RCC’s graduates had a strong desire to help others and found their calling through the Human Services Technology program.
RCC alumni Karen Bostick, Teshika Wall and LaKeshia Gibson all have different backgrounds and came to RCC for different reasons, but all three are now serving their community members through New Horizons Life and Family Services in Richmond County.
New Horizons’ mission is to serve people in crisis from domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking, to promote self-sufficiency and independence and to work to eliminate these issues in the community.
Bostick, Executive Director at New Horizons Life and Family Services, started her educational journey by taking adult high school classes at RCC to earn her high school diploma.
“Before I started RCC, I was working at Fruit of the Loom and did not have a high school diploma,” Bostick said. “RCC began offering GED classes at Fruit of the Loom, and I attended. It only took me a few months to complete my GED.”
One of Bostick’s co-workers stressed the importance of a college degree and encouraged her to register for a few college classes at RCC. Being a single mother and working a full-time job, she was hesitant about going to college. She feared she wouldn’t do well due to her other obligations, but she registered for classes and never looked back. Fruit of the Loom closed its doors before Bostick finished her degree, so she was able to attend college full-time. Bostick graduated in 1995 and transferred to the University of North Carolina-Pembroke and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
“Before starting RCC, I had never imagined going to college. I had worked in factories and assumed that is what I would always do, following in my mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps,” she said.
Although, Bostick had a few obstacles to overcome throughout her college career, she persevered and earned a master’s in Human Resources Management from Webster University.
“Once I received my GED and I enrolled at RCC, the staff, instructors, and my peers were so helpful. They encouraged me to hang in there and not quit, helping me to adjust to my new normal. There were times that I did not think I was going to make it, having to work and care for my children, but thankfully I did not give up,” Bostick said.
Earning her degree from RCC opened up doors for her that she never knew existed. It led her to New Horizons, where she started her career as a Court Advocate in 2003. After obtaining her advanced degrees, she was promoted to Executive Director in 2013 and has held that position for almost seven years.
Graduating from RCC’s Human Services program in 2014, Wall is the Shelter Manager at New Horizons. She said RCC gave her the drive to further her education.
Wall was working at Pizza Hut, where she had been manager for four years, when she decided to go back to college. She wanted to stay local and knew that a great college was right down the road from her home that would allow her to keep her job while taking classes.
“I always wanted more, so I went back to school to receive my degree in Human Services. After completing that degree, I still wanted more education. It was like I never wanted to stop learning. I still want to learn more,” Wall said.
RCC instilled a love for learning in Wall. She has been using the resources at RCC’s Career and Transfer Center to learn more about the possibility of transferring to UNC-Pembroke or Gardner Webb University to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Gibson of Hoffman is a 2005 graduate of RCC’s Human Service Technology program and is a Court Advocate and Community Educator at New Horizons Life and Family Services.
“I worked in fast food restaurants for many years. I began to realize how much I enjoyed listening to and chatting with the seniors that would come in for breakfast. I knew I wanted to help them with the issues they were facing and that my heart was geared toward serving them much more than fast food,” Gibson said.
While working a minimum wage job, she knew she had more to offer her community and began seeking options out at RCC. Before she knew it, she was enrolled in college classes and on her way to a better life of service and community action.
After graduating from RCC, she joined New Horizons. Currently, she is enrolled at Gardner-Webb University and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Human Service Technology through the online degree completion program.
“Thanks to the on-site informative visits from Gardner-Webb at RCC, I was encouraged to work to furthering my education,” she said.
For more information about the Human Services Technology program, contact Human Services Technology Program Coordinator Amanda Faulk at (910) 410-1927 or [email protected], or call Student Services at (910) 410-1700.