HAMLET — Bridget Norton of Laurinburg received her second college degree from Richmond Community College on Friday. She now has an Associate of Science degree and an Associate of Arts degree, which she completed last year. She earned both degrees for free through the RichmondCC Guarantee program.
Norton will continue his educational journey this fall at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke through the BraveStep seamless transfer program. She wants to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy. Her ultimate goal is to earn a doctorate and become a full-time physical therapist. She enters the UNCP with more than 100 university credits for these future degrees.
Career planning starts early
From the age of 15, Norton knew she wanted to be a physical therapist. She spent every summer from high school volunteering at Scotland Memorial Hospital and gained practical experience in many areas of the hospital, including the rehabilitation centre.
While a student at Marlboro Academy, she discovered the dual enrollment program at RichmondCC.
“Kary Edmondson, who is the director of K-12 partnerships at RichmondCC, came to my high school and talked about how we could take college classes while we were in high school,” Norton said. “The dual enrollment program allowed me to complete my electives and major university courses that I needed for my future university degree in physiotherapy.”
Norton has qualified for the RichmondCC Guarantee, which provides eligible high school graduates from Richmond and County Scotland with two years of tuition and fees free at RichmondCC.
“Colleges are so expensive today, but RichmondCC was affordable because of the financial aid and scholarships I received,” Norton said. “The process is simple and students should take advantage of it.”
When she started her journey at RichmondCC, Norton met a counselor who helped her plan to study physiotherapy.
“We did some research and saw that the University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy,” she said.
Reconcile studies and work
“Being a full-time student and working can be really tough, and this semester has been the toughest yet,” Norton said. “I created a timetable for each class and organized all my homework so that I could meet my responsibilities at school and at work.”
She helps in her family business, Norton Farms in Rockingham, and is also a dance teacher at the Legacy Dance Academy in Laurinburg.
Strong support system
Norton also received a lot of support and encouragement from his instructors.
“RichmondCC has very small class sizes compared to a larger university. Students can get one-on-one help from their instructors, which has been very helpful to me throughout my in-person classes, especially this semester,” she said. “Being a first generation student is a lot of work; however, Richmond Community College had a big impact on my life. I would definitely encourage other students to visit RichmondCC and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities it offers.
Norton’s biggest support system comes from his parents and in-laws, Shawn Norton and Crystal Norton and Brian Lewis and Angela Lewis, his church friends and family.
“I want to thank God for being my strength because without him I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Norton said.