VGCC awards top academic honor to Ivy League-bound student

Friday, February 24, 2017
Student Paul Caroline seated at a computer station in the library.

Vance-Granville Community College has named student Paul Caroline of Louisburg as its recipient of the North Carolina Community College System’s Academic Excellence Award for 2017. One student from each of the 58 colleges in the state system is honored with the award each year. 

Caroline will be officially recognized at Commencement in May, when he is scheduled to graduate from the college with both an Associate in Arts degree and an Associate in Science degree. That same month, Caroline will graduate from Franklin County Early College High School. This is the second year in a row that the VGCC Academic Excellence Award has gone to a student at FCECHS.

The college partners with four Early College high school programs, one in each county of the VGCC service area. As Caroline has done, students typically finish the program in five years, simultaneously earning high school diplomas and college degrees, or up to two years of college-transferable credits.

In an essay that he wrote for the award nomination, Caroline put his academic experience into its historical context. “For my family, education has always been a privilege,” he wrote. “In the early twentieth century, laws prohibited my great-grandmother and many other African American students from advancing to the twelfth grade and earning a high school diploma. Since then, each new generation has attested to a strong commitment to the pursuit of educational opportunity.”

Caroline added that “education opens doors to a better life, and one of the greatest thresholds I have crossed on my journey thus far is the iconic archway of Vance-Granville Community College.”

He described the support he has received from faculty members at both the high school and the college as “transformative.” Caroline said that he found that learning “not only yields the power to better oneself, but the world as a whole.” He took the “Vanguard spirit” and VGCC’s commitment to students to heart, he said, by helping others as a Peer Tutor through the college’s Academic Skills Center, starting at the age of 17.

After he graduates, Caroline is set to study Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, the prestigious Ivy League institution, with a full QuestBridge scholarship, which he described as “a first” for his community. “In my personal journey, Vance-Granville Community College has been a stepping-stone to making an Ivy League education possible,” Caroline said.

His twin brother, Peter, is also a Franklin County Early College High School student. Peter is likewise set to graduate with both an Associate in Arts degree and an Associate in Science degree from VGCC and will continue his education at Stanford University with a full QuestBridge scholarship.

“Paul’s hard work and dedication to excellence have earned him a place among the top community college students in North Carolina,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “He is an outstanding representative of both Vance-Granville and Franklin County Early College High School, and we know he will continue to make us proud as a student at one of our country’s elite institutions of higher learning.”


Above: Paul Caroline of Louisburg, seen here in the library on VGCC’s Franklin County Campus, is the college’s recipient of the North Carolina Community College System’s Academic Excellence Award for 2017. (VGCC Photo)