Edwards nominated for Dallas Herring Achievement Award

Southeastern Community College medical laboratory technology student Briana Edwards was nominated for the 2024 Dallas Herring Achievement Award. Edwards went from a college dropout to a 4.0 GPA student with ambitions to acquire a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science. Her journey of sacrifice, growth and determination allowed her to push through her financial issues in paying for college and seek out the extra help and motivation from her instructors.  

“My parents passed away when I was 11 years old and neither of them had graduated from high school, though my dad did go back to get his GED later in life,” Edwards said. “They both wanted me to receive a college education more than anything. My goal was to find a career and gain the education my parents always dreamed for me to have.” 

Edwards started her college career right out of high school, but she had to drop out to work extra hours and more days during the week to pay her bills. She re-entered college at 31 years old after realizing her job in veterinary medicine had “no room for extra expenses.” Her biggest challenge after enrolling at SCC was financial with paying tuition, books, fees and transportation to her clinicals at Novant Brunswick Medical Center. 

My husband was working extra hours and trying to support us, but there was no way I could afford to pay out of pocket for the entire program,” Edwards said. “I applied for FAFSA, and I was not a candidate due to my husband’s income.” 

With the assistance of the SCC Foundation and Office of Financial Aid, Edwards found scholarships to pay for her first year and used the Success+ Scholarship to pay for her second year.   

“Everyone at SCC truly wants their students to be able to receive a quality education regardless of their financial status,” Edwards said. “Without the help of the financial aid department at SCC, I would have been forced to drop out of college for a second time.” 

Edwards credits MLT instructor Dawn Williamson and chemistry instructor Gary Nealy for “pushing me to be my best and encouraged me whenever I felt I couldn’t do something.” She said that SCC instructors will “go the extra mile” for students, and she would not receive the same treatment in a university setting.  

“When I lacked confidence in my ability to correctly type blood in Transfusion Medicine, Mrs. Williamson always would ease my doubt and reassure me that I absolutely could,” Edwards said. “When I would struggle with math in chemistry, Mr. Nealy never hesitated to show me step by step how the problem should be worked out.” 

While forging lifelong friendships with her classmates, Edwards said the MLT program has enhanced her confidence and abilities. Her classmates have “been beyond encouraging when I felt inadequate.” 

Williamson praised Edwards’ work ethic, attention to detail, preparedness for tests, brilliance, being on time for class and her willingness to tutor other students in the MLT program. She hopes Edwards will pursue a master’s degree in MLT and become a college instructor.  

“She is very motivated, and she’s one of those rare students who wants to go the extra mile and get involved on campus,” Williamson said. “She’s just an overachiever and well-rounded person.”

Outside of class at SCC, Edwards engrossed herself in campus life with becoming the co-president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, secretary of the Cru chapter, secretary of the National Technical Honor Society chapter and a student tutor in the MLT program.  

“SCC has helped me learn how to be a leader, and it has helped me become more involved in the community as well as among the student body,” Edwards said. 

The Dallas Herring Achievement Award was established by the North Carolina Community College System to honor the late Dr. Dallas Herring whose philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go” is the guiding principle of the system. The award is given annually to a current or former community college student who best embodies Dr. Herring’s philosophy.