David Buckner will graduate from Gaston College and Ashbrook High School and will attend UNC-Charlotte as a Levine Scholar

David Buckner will graduate from Gaston College in May with an Associate in Science degree. In June, he will graduate as valedictorian of Ashbrook High School in Gastonia. He is the second Ashbrook student to earn an associate degree before receiving a high school diploma, and the first to have an Associate in Science degree.

Male posing for pictureIn addition to those achievements, Buckner will attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as part of the University Honors Program and he has also been selected as a member of the Levine Scholars Class of 2024. The Levine Scholars Program selects the brightest, most capable students and gives them the tools, resources and environment they need to explore the world around them, engage deeply in their communities and excel across disciplines. The four-year scholarship includes full tuition, room, board, a grant to implement a service project of the Scholar’s own design, and four summers of experiences that will develop leadership skills, social awareness and an international perspective. The total value of this four-year package is estimated at $105,000.

Buckner, who is from Lowell, N.C., attended Gaston Early College High School during his first semester of high school, but transferred to Ashbrook High School in his second freshman semester. “Gaston Early College High School is a great program,” he said, “but it was not meant for me. I am a student who values high school traditions like Friday night football games and GECHS could not offer me this.” He also wanted interaction with a larger student body and found that Ashbrook High School was a better fit for him. “I have absolutely loved being a Green Wave the last four years,” he said.

At Gaston College, Buckner participated in the Career & College Promise Program, which allows eligible high school students who currently attend a North Carolina private, public, charter, or home school to enroll in tuition-free college classes. Students can earn college credit allowing them to accelerate the completion of college certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees while saving time and money. “As a CCP student,” Buckner said, “I have been offered courses through pathways that make choosing courses at Gaston College easier for unexperienced college students like myself. I have been pushed academically and found a new sense of independence. As a high school student, one typically cannot take an online or night college course, but I had that opportunity and it has shaped me into a self-sufficient student.”

When Buckner first enrolled at Gaston College, he was unsure of what he would encounter. He expected to earn college credits and to boost his GPA, but he discovered that the College offered much more. “I soon fell in love with the atmosphere, courses, and professors,” he said. “I decided to continue, take more courses to attain my associate degree, and finish my pathway in a year.”

The Associate in Science degree Buckner will receive from Gaston College gives him enough credit hours to enter UNC-C as a junior. However, given the opportunities that the Levine Scholars program offers, he has decided to double major and graduate in four years. His majors will be Public Health and Health Systems Management with a pre-medicine route. He intends to go to medical school to get his Doctorate in Medicine, and he plans to become an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and to practice in the Charlotte/Gastonia region.

Buckner has benefitted from the support of many people along the way. His high school counselor, Shannon Froelich, was his “saving grace” and helped him navigate his new journey when he started at Gaston College. He is especially grateful to Gaston College Mathematics Instructors Bill Burgin and Jason Sain. “The two of them have pushed me academically,” Buckner said, “made me into a real college student, and truly cared about me in and out of class.”

Sain is very impressed with Buckner. “David is very hard working, driven, and intelligent. While his academic achievements are great, I am more pleased that he is an excellent human being on top of being as smart as he is,” he said. “Mr. Buckner always came to class eager to learn and willing to put in the hard work. He also had a smile on his face and a pleasant demeanor. He is an excellent student and an example to be followed. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Burgin agrees with Sain’s high regard for Buckner. “David Buckner is an exceptional student who worked so hard in my trigonometry class,” said Burgin. “He excelled in every aspect. When something confronted him, he was determined to not only get it right, but understand the concept completely. He also assisted others in the class with no hesitation. I truly think that David was one of the best students I have encountered in my 29 years at Gaston college.”

As Buckner prepares to take the next steps on his academic path, he reflected on his time at Gaston College. “I have loved my time at Gaston College,” he said. “I never thought it would have such an impact on me. It has truly changed my life. Gaston College is a wonderful community with caring individuals. I will cherish forever the memories I have made there.”

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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