Lavaris Nelson, of Charlotte is an adult student in the first graduating class at Johnson C. Smith University’s Metropolitan College. She joins 20 other students in the charter class who graduated on May 19 with degrees in business administration, social work and criminology.
Nelson started college at Georgia Military College, but life and family soon got in the way. A few years later, after moving to Charlotte, she decided to finish her degree.
Over the past two years, Nelson has succeeded in juggling her job at Carolinas Medical Center with her family responsibilities while taking evening classes to earn her degree in social work. Determined to graduate on time, she took nine classes last semester and had her second child without interrupting her studies. Nelson is in the social work honor society and plans to work at Crisis Ministries where she has completed an internship.
She says Metropolitan College worked for her because the 5:30 p.m. class time fit in with her daytime work schedule. She could pick up her baby from day care, go home, cook dinner, help her kids with homework, then get the babysitter and head to class. “When I left class I would stay up until 2:30 a.m. sometimes and do my own homework,” she says.
She graduated cum laude with honors. She is a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society, Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society as well as the NABSW (National Association of Black Social Workers).
“My whole family is so proud of me since I’m the first to graduate in my family,” she says. “I wanted to lead by example and my daughter says she’s so proud of me.”
When Metropolitan College opened its doors three years ago with a grant from The Duke Endowment the college served 11 students. To date, 200 students are enrolled, enhancing their opportunities for career advancement and success.