When describing Ricky Brown Jr.'s educational journey, the word "traditional" doesn't immediately come to mind.
Raised by his grandparents, he didn't attend college directly after high school graduation. Instead, he began a full-time career at Goodyear where he slowly but surely climbed the corporate ladder.
Even though he was making strides at Goodyear and building a successful career with the company, Ricky wanted more, for both himself and his family. He no longer wanted to live paycheck to paycheck or be embarrassed to have to say "no" when asked about his education status on applications, forms, etc. He decided it was time to earn a college degree.
Unfortunately, before he could take that next step in his life plan, he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. To make matters worse, doctors discovered a congenital heart disorder during recovery that would require him to undergo countless surgeries, therapy sessions, and more.
Despite this setback, he enrolled in college, choosing Central Piedmont because its multi-campus footprint was convenient for his lifestyle and its robust Comprehensive Articulation Agreement with surrounding four-year colleges would ensure all of the credits he earned would 100 percent transfer to East Carolina University, where he planned to complete his B.S. in Communications (ECU).
Upon enrolling in 2007, he was awarded a Levine Scholarship, which to Ricky, was the largest blessing of all. "The Levine Scholarship was extremely beneficial," he says. "It helped partially offset the medical expenses I incurred during college, allowing me to focus more on obtaining my Associate in Science degree and less on my finances."
Thanks to Central Piedmont's flexible learning schedule, Ricky started back to school slowly, choosing to take online courses because they could easily fit in-between his physical therapy sessions. Focusing on his studies helped him keep his mind engaged while his body recovered.
During his time at Central Piedmont, Ricky fostered a variety of relationships with peers and faculty alike, and generated a number of professional connections as well. "I still communicate with Dr. Anne McIntosh, one of my instructors from Central Piedmont. In fact, she continues to support my professional and academic endeavors to this day."
Since graduating from Central Piedmont in 2009, Ricky earned his bachelor's degree from ECU, continues to work at Goodyear in Internal Audit, was accepted into the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), and is attending graduate school at East Carolina University, pursuing an MBA, which he is projected to complete in spring 2020. After graduate school, he's considering earning a Ph.D.
"My goal is to continue to grow and develop into the best version of myself," he says. "I would love to one day give back to Central Piedmont -- the institution that gave me the foothold I needed to succeed in all areas of my life."
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