Monday, June 30, 2014

#SoCanU: African American Brotherhood chapter helps student succeed after heart attack

Featured below is an interview with another #SoCanU project rockstar. Be inspired. :) 

What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends? I love taking my dog out whenever it's a nice day out. I often put in my headphones, crank up some good tunes, and let my dog lead the way. Then I relax from there depends on where my dog "takes" me. 

Favorite food/meal? Indian curry and sushi is always a favorite. I remember when I was younger back when I lived in California that nothing hits the spot like a good carne asada burrito.

What made you decide to choose community college? I chose community college because I felt I wasn't quite ready to tackle a four year university. When I was in high school I had a heart attack and was brain dead for a time; I had to deal with a lot of memory loss, and not as bright as I once was, I didn't want to waste my time or money at a four year institution if I didn't know if I had the capacity yet to put forth my best effort.

Were there any obstacles in your life prior to attending community college that you had to overcome? One of my most difficult obstacles to overcome was my arrogance from high school. I assumed since I was smart, if you weren't as smart as me, you weren't worth my time. I missed out on lots of great friendships due to this. 

I was also too proud to ask for help in subjects I struggled in, and instead of getting the help I needed in topics I had issues with, I’d often just struggle through it. 

Another obstacle that I live with every day is my speech impediment. I stutter, and have my whole life, because of this, I’m usually the last to speak. This has improved some over the years, and it gives me the time to think through what I say before I vocalize whatever it is that I’m thinking.

What obstacles did you overcome in community college and/or in your transfer university to achieve your degree? My memory is still, by far my largest obstacle I face on a daily basis. I used to be able to read a chapter of a textbook, pull out all of the important tidbits, and remember them. Now, I have to be a bit more creative to help my memory. Flashcards and rewriting my notes helps a lot.

What is one of the most important things that helped you succeed in community college and beyond? I’d have to say that the most important thing that has helped me in community college is the support networks I’ve found myself becoming a part of. 

My family is first and foremost my greatest stream of support. After them comes my Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) brothers. These are a bunch of guys who inspire me to do better. They’re also like a second family to me. 

I’m honored that for my final semester at TCC, I get to be the president of the Virginia Beach chapter. I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the great instructors and mentors I got a chance to take classes with, work with, and interact with at the various campuses of Tidewater Community College.

What is the best piece of advice you can give our readers who are currently attending community college? Plan and know where you want to be in life. Community college served as an inexpensive means to learn loads of useful information and prepare myself for my next step in my life plan. 

Also, surround yourself with those who have the same or similar goals to your own, who will push you to excel in all it is that you do. This was something that I got out of SAAB, I had brothers with similar education goals, who would push me to do better. We even had a mini competition going at one point to see who could get the best grades for a semester. 

If I was struggling in math, there was someone there to offer assistance who I could relate to. If the person who helped me in math needed help with any of his computer classes, I was there to return the favor. This is part of the things that we’re taught in SAAB is part of our affirmation, “I am my Brother’s Keeper and Together We Will Rise!”

Dexter Givens II will graduate from Tidewater Community College in Fall 2014 and is currently an Education Support Specialist I at Tidewater Community College's Virginia Beach Campus student center. After graduating TCC he plans on completing his bachelor's degree in computer science at Old Dominion University. 

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