Gerri Hunt Special for RockinghamNow
WENTWORTH – During May’s graduation ceremony, Dayahna Blatchley received the Outstanding Student Award – the RCC’s highest recognition each year.
The faculty nominates students for the award who have a GPA of at least 3.25. The nominees are then interviewed by a faculty committee.
Blatchley has come a long way in just a few short years. She moved to North Carolina during middle school and eventually settled in Reidsville. After graduating from high school, she took a year off, unsure of what to do next.
“I tried so hard to figure out what I wanted to do. I left with a hobby, gardening,” she said. She wasn’t sure if that was a sustainable career path, but she enrolled in the Agribusiness Technology program at Rockingham Community College in Fall 2020.
“Then I realized it was more career-oriented and I could do something with it,” she said. “I thought it might be really fun to learn economics and grow plants – the best of both worlds.”
People also read…
After starting school, she applied for a job as a student ambassador. She had just quit her job as a hostess at a pizzeria, so she was excited about the prospect of making some money again. On the day of her interview, before leaving Whitcomb Student Center, she was asked to join the Student Government Association.
“I said yes before I even knew what the SGA was,” Blatchley said with a chuckle. An hour later, she was hired as a student ambassador. It was a big day for her.
It wasn’t long before Blatchley was elected SGA Vice President, at which point she resigned from her post as Ambassador due to time constraints. A few months later, the SGA President resigned, bringing Blatchley to that position — which included serving as the sole student representative on the RCC Board of Trustees.
“It was great. It feels so good to do things and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It keeps me busy and I like the things I do.”
Blatchley continued to excel in her class work. The first summer in the Ag program involves work-based learning, so she spent those months at Big Apple Farm Supply in Reidsville.
“Technically, I was called a cashier, but I had to walk around. I was introduced to different feeds, chemicals and different ways of dealing with situations. I chilled in the background and watched professionals answer questions – like why tomatoes don’t grow. It was a wonderful experience.”
When she started classes that fall, the Ag program director asked several questions about her summer job, and she was surprised she knew the answers.
“I’m a hands-on learner, so it was cool to get out in the field and learn,” she said.
As she progressed in the Ag program, she considered moving to NC A&T and into landscape design through an articulation agreement the university has with RCC.
But then she got a two-year scholarship from the State Employees Credit Union. She chose to remain at the RCC after receiving her Associate in Applied Science degree in Agricultural Technology in May 2022. She was the very first graduate of this program.
She started looking for other avenues to pursue at RCC as she didn’t want to waste the rest of the scholarship.
“Medical work was another passion when I was younger,” Blatchley said. Her friend recommended nursing, but she chose Medical Office Administration.
“I already work on the computer all day and I could easily do that. I’ve looked into careers, and you pretty much get your associate’s degree, your degree, and you get a job in that field,” she said. “That’s my goal now. I’m so excited to do it. It’s a big load off my chest to find something to make a career out of. As soon as I have the money and availability, I can get back to landscaping.”
Blatchley said her first two years at RCC have been fantastic.
She couldn’t decide which class was her favorite: “That’s a tough question. The program is so well planned with such a variety of good classes. I remember Animal Science was extremely interesting. Ethics makes you think. Biology was great. I’m more of a hands-on person, so I really enjoyed the labs.”
“It’s so weird and surreal because so many opportunities have knocked on my door. It’s not something high school prepares you for. The faculty understand that you have a life off campus,” Blatchley said. “Everyone at is so personable. The professors, the staff… you can sit down and have a real conversation. I got so much help from people I never thought I would have a connection with.”
These relationships will continue to grow and experiences will continue to surface as she moves through the Medical Office Administration program.
Blatchley has been studying this program for about a semester since taking it for Agribusiness.
Still, she jumps in right away and is taking some new classes this summer. And she returned to her job as a student ambassador for the time being, helping RCC’s admissions team with orientation for new students and campus tours. It’s nice to see Blatchley all over campus this summer, and the RCC community is excited to have her with us for a few more semesters.