Tyler Southward flourished at Gaston College with the support of faculty and peers
Tyler Southward was 24 years old when he started at Gaston College in 2018. A native of Saginaw, Michigan, who moved to North Carolina in 2014, Southward had never been an enthusiastic student and had dropped out of high school, but in his early 20s he decided to commit himself to his education and his community. “I was both determined to succeed and uncertain if I could,” he said. “I wondered if the years that I had not taken school seriously would come back to haunt me.” He will graduate from Gaston College in May 2020 with an Associate in Science degree and with many achievements and accolades to his credit.
With his 4.0 GPA, Southward was on the President’s List each semester, he was named the Gaston College Arts and Science Student of the Year for 2020, and he also completed the College’s Scholars of Global Distinction program, which prepares students to be culturally competent global citizens in an increasingly global job market. Through the program, Southward visited the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, and Estonia. “I wanted to participate in the program because it offered the opportunity to extend my learning beyond the classroom and into the world,” said Southward.
“Aside from being a great student in the classroom, Tyler is one of the most inquisitive students we have had, and I always saw him in deep conversation with various faculty members about life, careers, and educational opportunities,” said Brian Bookout, Instructor of History and Sociology and Chair of the Global Imprints Team. “He is an excellent example to current and future students of the possibilities that life holds. Furthermore, his educational experience helps highlight the quality of the faculty and programs at Gaston College and what can be accomplished here.”
The doubts that Southward had regarding his ability to succeed in an academic setting receded with each successful semester at Gaston College. “I was able to thrive on the support of my professors and peers,” he said. “I learned that community support can enable a person to flourish more than individual effort alone. Along the way, my professors illuminated previously unseen opportunities by expressing confidence in my potential, and my peers helped me learn more effectively by participating in group study sessions.”
Southward will attend NC State as a participant in the prestigious Goodnight Scholars Program, which prepares North Carolina’s top STEM talent to become transformational leaders. He will major in Statistics and he plans to go on to earn a Master of Science degree. His career goal is to work as a data analyst in the Research Triangle area.
About Gaston College Scholars of Global Distinction
The GCSGD initiative is part of the NC Global Distinction program, a collaboration between North Carolina community colleges and UNC at Chapel Hill to globalize the curriculum and increase faculty and student involvement in global issues, activities, and dialogue. The Global Imprints team at Gaston College coordinates the initiative. The team comprises faculty and staff members who are committed to creating opportunities that build and enhance global awareness, inspire cultural competence, stimulate personal ethical growth, and deepen intellectual inquiry at the College as well as in the larger community.
About Gaston College
Gaston College is one of 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System. Serving both Gaston and Lincoln counties, Gaston College enrolls approximately 8,000 students each term in curriculum programs and averages over 17,000 annually in its Economic and Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs. Gaston College offers over 100 fields of study to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate. To learn more about the College’s services and programs, visit the Gaston College website at www.gaston.edu.
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