A Bladen Community College employee will soon be a familiar face at East Bladen and West Bladen high schools. Cierra Griffin will serve the community as the College and High School Programs Coordinator.
The position is a collaborative creation. Barry Priest, vice president of Student Services, and Anthony Thomas, director of students, worked with administrators in the Bladen County School System to provide the cooperative arrangement.
“Ms. Griffin will be located on each high school campus (East and West Bladen) one day per week,” states Priest. “She will be responsible for enrolling high school students in the Career and College Promise Program, providing guidance, and coordinating Bladen Community College recruiting events for middle school and high school students.”
“High school students do not always have a vision for their life,” said Griffin. “Sometimes, their personal situations place limitations on their potential. I understand this. It is my own story.”
Griffin and a younger sister grew up in Thomasville, Ga. Living with her adoptive uncle, she was well adjusted, popular in her high school, a cheerleader, and a member of both JROTC and the soccer team. When her uncle announced his plans to move to Atlanta and the transfer of Griffin and her sister to another uncle who was moving to Tallahassee, Fla., Griffin resisted.
“I contacted my father’s family and asked if I could live with them,” remembers Griffin. “When they said no, I was heartbroken.”
Griffin’s best friend’s family also said no. Her high school soccer coach agreed to take Griffin into her home, but would not take Griffin’s sister.
With no other recourse, Griffin reluctantly moved to Tallahassee, Florida.
The transition was difficult. Griffin describes the experience.
“The adjustment from Thomasville to Tallahassee was hard. We lived on the outskirts of town, but went to the city schools,” she said.
She immersed herself into the high school environment, joining the JROTC and both the track and soccer teams. With time, she excelled academically, and began thinking about possibly going to college, an extraordinarily high goal for Griffin. Her father was her only immediate family member who had graduated from high school.
With the assistance of engaged high school guidance counselors, Griffin was accepted into Florida State University in 2005, with a scholarship and grant funding providing her full tuition costs.
“For the first time in my life, I felt like I was smart,” reminisces Griffin. “FSU is like Florida’s ivy league school. To be a black student from Thomasville, Ga., at FSU was really something.”
While in college, Griffin enlisted in the Air Force Reserve. After five changes in her degree coursework, Griffin graduated in 2010 with a sociology degree. In 2015, she graduated with a master’s degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Griffin is excited about this opportunity to help Bladen County high-school students make important decisions about their futures.
“I can’t wait to get into the schools and meet the students,” she exclaims. “I just thought I would never go anywhere beyond Thomasville, Ga. Then at FSU, I wanted to be somebody. Now I have the opportunity to help young adults make the most of their futures.”
Priest also believes Griffin will make a difference.
“We are appreciative for the opportunity to have Ms. Griffin on the high school campuses,” he states. “The partnership between Bladen County Schools and Bladen Community College has made this possibility a reality.”
High-school students in Bladen County can talk with high school guidance counselors about scheduling an appointment with Griffin. For information about Bladen Community College, contact the college at 910 879-5500.
— Cathy Kinlaw is the public information officer for Bladen Community College.