Although she was valedictorian of her 2015 high school class at Cross Creek Early College High School in Fayetteville, Dominique Weatherspoon needed a little encouragement from her school counselors to aim high for college.
Once she did that, she found herself aiming for NC State.
“I knew I was interested in doing math,” Weatherspoon said. “NC State came naturally – I loved it at the open house.”
She saw a campus that was updated and full of the latest technology. She could picture herself in an environment where STEM really flourished. And, along with its strengths in science, technology, engineering and math, NC State also was a place that would provide the travel opportunities Weatherspoon craved.
Less than four years later, Weatherspoon can list 17 countries, from Costa Rica to Dubai, among those she has visited. A number of those trips happened thanks to the Goodnight Scholarship she received to attend NC State.
And that’s not the only experience she credits to being a Goodnight Scholar. Service to others has been equally impactful.
“As high school seniors, a lot of the time we would be really committed to service, but I think it’s easy to lose that when you come to college,” she said. “Goodnight helped me stay service-minded.”
She combined her passion for travel with service on more than one occasion, traveling to Guatemala, for example, as part of an Alternative Service Break focused on gender issues. Alongside other Goodnight Scholars, Weatherspoon also joined more than 1,000 students at Service Raleigh, NC State’s annual citywide day of service.
In addition to her service experiences, she has been a supporter of the recruitment, retention and graduation of students of diverse backgrounds, through her work as an office assistant for the College of Sciences, as a College of Sciences student ambassador and even as a teaching assistant for a course she once took herself, COS 295, taught by Dr. Jamila Simpson, currently the college’s interim associate dean for academic affairs. This special topics class, aimed at underrepresented minority students in the College of Sciences, made a big impact on Weatherspoon.
“Within that class, I found a sense of community with my peers, and also mentorship from Dr. Simpson,” she said.
On Dec. 19, Weatherspoon will graduate with a B.S. in mathematics, and a double minor in psychology and women’s and gender studies.
Weatherspoon, a self-proclaimed “military brat” who lived in a number of states from Texas to Georgia, settled in Fayetteville in middle school when her mother retired from the army.
When she found out she’d received the Goodnight Scholarship, the news provided a sense of relief financially, Weatherspoon said.
“Being able to go to such a prestigious university without having to bear that burden was really a huge turning point for me,” she said.
The Goodnight Scholars Program also provided a built-in network.
“I wanted to be at a big school for the opportunities, but I’m also an introvert,” Weatherspoon said. “Having that community from day one was really important.”
As she looks toward the future, Weatherspoon considers herself fortunate to have a job already lined up and said that being a Goodnight Scholar helped prepare her for the professional world. She’ll be working for SAS as a technical training consultant, training users to use SAS software.
Thanks to the Goodnight Scholarship, Weatherspoon is heading out into the world without student loans.
“It really makes me think of how much of a privilege this has been, to be able to go through an experience like NC State and to be able to walk away with no debt, a career and a support system,” she said.
This post was originally published in Giving News.