HAMLET — Bridget Norton of Laurinburg received her second college degree from Richmond Community College on Friday. She now has an Associate in Science degree and Associate in Arts degree, which she earned last year. She earned both degrees for free thanks to the RichmondCC Guarantee program.
Norton will continue her educational journey this fall at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke by way of the seamless transfer program BraveStep. She wants to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy. Her ultimate goal is to get a doctorate and become a full-time physical therapist. She is entering UNCP with well over 100 college credits toward these future degrees.
Career Planning Starts Early
From the age of 15, Norton knew that she wanted to be a physical therapist. She spent every summer of high school volunteering at Scotland Memorial Hospital and gained hands-on experience in many areas of the hospital, including the Rehabilitation Center.
While she was a student at Marlboro Academy, she learned about the dual enrollment program at RichmondCC.
“Kary Edmondson, who is the director of K-12 Partnerships at RichmondCC, came to my high school and explained how we could take college classes while we were in high school,” Norton said. “The dual enrollment program allowed me to finish my electives and major college classes that I needed for my future college degree in physical therapy.”
Norton qualified for the RichmondCC Guarantee, which provides eligible high school graduates from Richmond and Scotland County two years of free tuition and fees at RichmondCC.
“Colleges are so expensive today, but RichmondCC was affordable because of the financial assistance and scholarships I received,” Norton said. “The process is easy, and students should take advantage of it.”
When she began her journey at RichmondCC, Norton met with an advisor who helped her with her plan to study physical therapy.
“We did some research and saw that the University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy,” she said.
Balancing College and Work
“Being a full-time college student and working can be very challenging, and this semester has been my toughest one yet,” Norton said. “I created a schedule for each class and organized all of my assignments so that I could fulfill my responsibilities to school and work.”
She helps out at her family business, Norton Farms in Rockingham, and is also a dance instructor at Legacy Dance Academy in Laurinburg.
Strong Support System
Norton also received a lot of support and encouragement from her instructors.
“RichmondCC has very small classes compared to a larger university. Students can get one-on-one help from their instructors, which was very helpful for me throughout all of my in-person classes, especially this semester,” she said. “Being a first-generation college student is a lot of work; however, Richmond Community College has had an important 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 her parents and step-parents, Shawn Norton and Crystal Norton and Brian Lewis and Angela Lewis, her friends and her church family.
“I want to thank God for being my strength, because without Him I would not be where I am today,” Norton said.