With a population that could best be described as sparse, Virginia’s Eastern Shore can be a lonely place. But, that’s okay with Kirstin Gray. After all, she’s lived there her entire life and the peninsula’s decidedly slower pace suits her to a tee.
“It’s not a lot of people and it’s definitely a small town setting,” she noted while stifling a giggle. “We got our first Walmart a few years ago so everyone hangs out there. It’s like our new mall.”
Gray has switched her degree plans twice since enrolling at Eastern Shore Community College in 2011. Now, she’s finally set her sights on education and hopes to enter the physical therapy assistant program at Tidewater Community College after she graduates.
For now, Gray keeps a pretty hectic schedule. She works two part-time jobs (both on campus) and serves as the chapter president of Phi Theta Kappa. She’s also involved in the college’s SNAP club.
“I do feel like it’s hard sometimes. But if you want something bad enough and you want to reap the rewards from it, then you’re going to put as much work into it as possible.”
When she met with her state representatives at the General Assembly for Every Day is Community College Day, Gray was eager to express her gratitude.
“I’ve had financial assistance, thankfully. It’s given me a chance to take the classes. You know, a community college is there for you to find your way at a four year and it’s a way to bridge your learning there. So, me being able to go to a community college has set forth my plans of what I want to do in the future.”
And that future, Gray feels, is bright indeed. Her optimism was palpable.
“I feel like if I didn’t go to community college, I would probably still be kind of philandering around at a four-year and would have no direction of where I wanted to go. So, these few years that I’ve been at Eastern Shore have really helped me set my plans in motion.”
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