Kasheena Collins will need four years instead of the typical two to earn her associate's degree. She heard "you can't" or "you won't" from people back in her old New York neighborhood when she would tell them that she was going to attend college and become a veterinarian. She has overcome family adversity thrown her way, which threatened to derail her intentions of staying on the right track. Despite all of this, there is a drive in Collins to not just succeed, but to succeed on a grand scale.
"When I lived back in New York, I didn't attend [high school] class every day and I didn't focus one hundred percent. When I got to Pennsylvania, I told myself that my priority is to stay in school, to go to these classes every day, Monday through Friday, and show people that I can be better," says Collins. "And still, people looked at me as if to say 'Kasheena isn't going anywhere. She's probably going to drop out'. I'm the only one in my whole family who actually earned a high school diploma rather than a GED."
Collins has had a lifelong desire to study the biological sciences that will put her on the path to veterinary medicine, but when others put down her efforts to get ahead, she would find herself starting projects and not finishing them. When she enrolled at Northampton, she was looking for a college that would connect with her not just academically, but also on a more personal and emotional level. She has since become president of the science club, has received a SMART scholarship, holds an on-campus work-study position at the First Impressions boutique, and is involved in a number of student-led initiatives.
"I won't lie. It wasn't easy at first," says Collins, who resides in on-campus housing. "NCC has built me from the ground up. It's been fun, but it's been a lot of learning and a lot of learning experiences. But I know it's going to help me in the future."
Collins now makes an effort to talk to other students around campus about the importance of getting involved both inside and outside of the classroom. She also relies on the student/mentor relationships she's developed with her professors.
"Dr. Sharon Lee-Bond actually pushed me at getting this far and applying for a scholarship," Collins recalls. "I would have never gone to apply on my own. I thought I would never get picked. I go to my professors if I need help with anything, and I was really excited that she recognized the effort I was making."
Collins plans to transfer to a four-year college, has dreams of one day attending graduate school, and wants to work with large animals in whatever setting her career would allow her to do so - zoos, safaris, and animal sanctuaries anywhere in the world would be ideal for the career she envisions for herself. The first priority on her list, however, is graduating from NCC.
"I've learned one thing I keep telling myself," says Collins. "Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it, because you can. Only you know what you're capable of."
Name: Kasheena Collins
Projected Graduation Date: Spring 2014