Sampson Community College Student Jairo Najera is known around campus for his infectious attitude and his hard work and dedication to education. As a result of this commitment and a relentless work ethic, Najera has been chosen as the 2011 recipient of the Academic Excellence Award.
This distinguished honor is given to only one student from each of the 58 North Carolina Community Colleges. Najera will be honored in a formal ceremony in Raleigh in April. The award was established in 1998 to recognize and encourage scholarship among the students of the NCCCS. The tradition honors a student who has set the highest possible personal goals and attained the pinnacle of academic success.
Najera says receiving this award is a dream come true. “I truly enjoy school,” says Najera, “but I never thought I would be rewarded for it.” My lifelong goal has always been to receive an education, because I know what it is like being a kid with not even the prospect of a college degree.”
Najera, who was born in Mexico, relocated with his parents to the United States when he was three years old. He immediately enrolled in St. Martin's Migrant Head Start, where he learned to speak English. It wasn't long before Najera knew his goal was to pursue a better life for himself and his family. “I rarely saw my father because he was putting in 100-hour weeks working as a farm laborer to make ends meet. We were extremely poor, and as soon as I was old enough, I began working in the construction field to help my family. However, I didn't want to remain as a construction worker for the rest of my life. My dream has always been to become a construction superintendent.”
Najera completed his high school education at Lakewood High School and immediately enrolled in the Building Construction Technology Program at SCC. Najera exemplifies every qualification for Academic Excellence. While enrolled, he has garnered several notable achievements: He is the President of the SCC Construction Club, an SCC Ambassador, on the Dean's List, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and has maintained a 4.0 GPA for the past two years. He even took twenty-two credit hours one semester. Najera says that although the journey has been challenging, he wouldn't trade it for anything. “There have been sleepless nights because I needed to finish homework, and it hasn't always been easy, but quitting is not an option for me. I'm going to complete the journey that I started!”
Najera will graduate from SCC in May and receive his Associates in Applied Science Degree. His dream doesn't stop there, however. The next stop on his exciting journey is East Carolina University, where he will enroll Fall 2011 to complete his Bachelor's Degree in Construction Management.
Not only is SCC proud to recognize Najera for his endless accomplishments, but so is his family, he says. “I will be the first member of my family to ever graduate college, and I know this achievement will make them proud and hopefully motivate others to reach for their dreams regardless of their circumstances!”