From a Class of One to Doing It All: Nicholas Blackford
Nicholas Blackford values the conversations that take place in his classrooms. For a homeschooled student from a graduating class of one, this personal contact makes up for his years of isolation. In his first year at Beaufort County Community College, Blackford has fully embraced all the opportunities provided by BCCC and has even taken the lead in the Student Government Association.
“It’s a stimulating environment, to have people expressing their opinion,” he rejoiced. “You can do the same and take in what other people are saying and get various perspectives on issues.”
To get a sense Blackford’s involvement at the college, it might be easier to list the organizations he in which he is not involved. As Student Government Association president, Blackford will serve on the BCCC Board of Trustees as the student representative. He is also an ambassador for the college, speaking at public events and volunteering around campus. He joined the Obsidian Music Club, even though he does not play an instrument. The only reason he has not joined Gamma Beta Phi is that he needed to finish out a full semester to qualify.
“Real change is possible through that organization,” he said, referring to SGA. He insists the group is about more than just free pizza. “Without the students being there, and being involved, we don’t know. We can’t read minds. Having more people there means that hopefully things that get changed or put in place are well received.”
On top of all his student organizations, he is a work-study student with the computer support services department at the college. Through his work with Brenda Rogers, the CSS coordinator, he has fine-tuned a vision for his career.
“I got here thinking, ‘oh, I could do something in psychology or business administration.’ Then botany. I like to do too many things.”
Blackford is now working toward an Associate in Arts, after which he will transfer to East Carolina University to finish a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He is also weighing a master's degree in computer information systems.
If it seems like he has dived into the deep end of college involvement on his first visit, it is because Blackford is making up for lost time.
“The only education I had with other kids, prior to this, was a private kindergarten,” Blackford admits.
While he does not play an instrument, Blackford used music to keep from feeling isolated in homeschool. His family’s experience in sales helped him develop excellent public speaking skills. Though he benefited from the personal attention, his excitement for lively debates and organizing student life is evident.
Not only has BCCC been an opportunity for engagement for Blackford, the sizes of the classes have proven to be a good transition.
“One of the things, instead of going straight over to ECU, that made me want to go here was the smaller class sizes,” he said. “The class sizes are not exactly homeschool, but comparable enough that it’s easier to handle.”
“If I have any issues, there’s the person I need to talk to,” he said pointing. “The teacher’s right there. Having the instructor in the class who’s right there, that you could be like, ‘hey, I don’t get this’ is extremely comforting.”
Other students may enter the college and leave without trace, neglecting to raise their hand or join a club. With his level of involvement and his leadership role at the college, the once-isolated Blackford will soon be known by all at the college.