Ask Tracy Curlings if she has come a long way and she will quickly nod her head
and say, "Yes."
In the early 90's, Curlings was a 16-year-old, high school dropout. Fast forward to
spring 2015 and she graduated from Elizabeth City State University with a bachelor's
degree in geology. Now she is preparing for her first semester at North Carolina State
University where she'll begin a master's degree program in Geospatial Informational
Many things have taken place in Curlings' life within this time frame. She became
a single mother, earned a general education diploma (GED), and worked in assorted
industries-commercial fishing, security, construction, nursing home assisting, and
a position at Pettigrew State Park. Eventually, she decided she could not advance
beyond entry-level jobs without additional education.
After earning two associate degrees from College of the Albemarle, Curlings attended
a 2012 Open House session at ECSU. She learned about the Virginia North Carolina
Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, which exposes underrepresented
minorities to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Curlings
was interested in this program, but feared she would not fit in. She was much older
than most of the 18-year-old college students who usually participate and she would
need childcare. Yet, she knew she could benefit from the program. ECSU faculty and
staff encouraged her to apply, focus on excelling and nothing else. She accepted that
challenge and began a remarkable journey.
"I took [LSAMP's summer] classes and got to learn more about the [university]...,"
Curlings said. "At the close of the program I was awarded a certificate for being
the most inquisitive in the program. I was always asking questions. I believe that
is why I received it."
She enrolled as an ECSU freshman the following semester and took advantage of the
university's resources. Over the next three years, Curling became an honor roll student
and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. There was one significant
change, however, to her plan.
"I went to ECSU for a four-year-degree in Marine Science and ended up changing my
major," Curling said.
"I took Introduction to Geology as an elective (course). I loved it so much that I
changed my major and never looked back."
Her advice to students who are considering whether they should return to school or
transfer from a community college is simple.
"Where there is a will, there is a way!!"
ECSU will hold orientation for transfer students on July 17 and August 15. Visit the
Office of Transfer Advising and Resources webpage for more information on their services
or call 252-335-3474.