Next Up: Lifelong Learner
A single dad of two girls, Kenneth Pritchett had accomplished a lot as a medical records technician for nearly 25 years and as a local school board member. But there was one thing he didn’t have: a college degree. Brightpoint helped him change that.
A single dad of two girls, Kenneth Pritchett had accomplished a lot as a medical records technician for nearly 25 years and as a local school board member. But there was one thing he didn’t have: a college degree.
Inspired by his eldest daughter, who was thriving at Norfolk State University, Kenneth decided it was time to fix that. “I was just energized, because I wanted to show my girls that no matter how old you are, you still can get your degree,” Kenneth recalls. “You can do it if you put your mind to it. My girls were so excited to see me take this step.”
Here’s how he surpassed his expectations:
Take a bold leap
Kenneth’s excitement turned to trepidation as the start of school grew nearer: He imagined he would be inferior to students fresh out of high school. “I thought, ‘I don’t know how it’s gonna work, because I know they’re probably gonna be smarter than me.’ But that wasn’t the case. I felt welcomed, and this college accepted me. No matter your age, professors and fellow students are there to help you. It’s like a close-knit family.”
“Brightpoint is a college that cares about the student,” he elaborates. “They provide the assistance that you need. And whatever degree or area you’re looking to go into, I guarantee you can find it at Brightpoint.”
Among Kenneth’s pivotal experiences was an internship at a community-based group home. Not only did his work as a residential counselor for mentally ill young men relate to his job at Central State Hospital, but it enriched his effectiveness as a volunteer on the disciplinary committee of the Petersburg City Public Schools board.
“The internship really was rewarding to me and gave me insight into what was needed for the students in our school division,” he says. “We are now able to connect our students with a psychologist or behavioral support specialist. It was just amazing how everything about the internship worked out for the good.”
“I was just energized, because I wanted to show my girls that no matter how old you are, you still can get your degree. You can do it if you put your mind to it. My girls were so excited to see me take this step.”
Find a class mix that suits your situation
Kenneth, who graduated magna cum laude in 2015, completed his associate degree in human services in just a year and a half, thanks to the flexibility Brightpoint offers. He took a mix of online and on-campus courses that fit around his full-time work schedule and parenting responsibilities.
With his first college degree in hand, Kenneth wasn’t about to stop. “I went straight to Norfolk State and received my bachelor’s [in interdisciplinary studies] and master’s [in pre-elementary education] degrees,” he says proudly.
Not only did his Brightpoint experience position him for greater career success, but it sharpened his leadership skills. “My public speaking class prepared me to be a better leader, because I could speak much better, and because of my English classes, I write so much better,” he explains.
Stretch as a leader
“All of this prepared me for even greater roles in leadership” — including one that he says left him “speechless.” Just two years after his Brightpoint graduation, Kenneth was invited to join his alma mater’s College Board and now serves as chair of that group, which advises Brightpoint’s administration.
It’s rare in the community college world for a board leader to be an alumnus — and Kenneth is the first one to chair Brightpoint’s board. He says, “I would have never imagined that I would be in a position like this, that you can come back as an alum and can give back to the college that actually birthed you.”
During the pandemic, Chrishelle York enrolled at Brightpoint in search of a career change and more stability. She juggled coursework, homeschooling her daughter and managing her salon. Now, she’s transferring to VCU in pursuit of a career in human resources.
At Brightpoint, Heilie Sheppard positioned herself for a job she loves in machining and career advancement in mechanical engineering.
After high school, Khiem Tran spent a gap year working and saving — to achieve his dream of earning a bachelor’s degree. At Brightpoint, he discovered a lasting desire to give back and took advantage of the college’s guaranteed transfer agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University.
When John Karlsen dual enrolled at Brightpoint as a high school senior, he wanted to explore different healthcare careers before deciding on his bachelor’s degree major. His associate degree in health sciences and EMT certification at Brightpoint gave him patient-care experience and a pathway for his future.