Community colleges spark second careers

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- For many people, gone are the days of having one career in life.

They are looking for a second chance to do something they love, which is why community
colleges are becoming more popular with people already in the workforce.

Erin Mizelle has been studying photography at Randolph Community College for almost two years.

“That really wasn't my game plan. I didn't know what my game plan was, but it wasn't photography,” Mizelle said.

Up until her senior year at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, she was planning to go into education.

“Walking into the first grade classroom right before the year was supposed to start I was like oh boy I don't think this is it,” she said.

Mizelle would graduate with a journalism degree instead, but years went by and in between jobs she heard about Randolph Community College's photography program.

“Even growing up 15- 20 minutes down the road, I had no idea the caliber of the program that is RCC photography,” she said.

Thanks to the program, she has an impressive portfolio that includes photos published in magazines, books, and throughout The Chronicle, a Winston-Salem based newspaper where she interns.

Donna Coleman is also pursuing her passion. She worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep for 15 years before finding the right fit.

“I truly felt like my gifts and talents weren't being utilized. I had this urge to do something different and the urge just kept growing and growing,” Coleman said.

About two years ago, she decided to follow her love of decorating.

Coleman took a leap of faith and transitioned into doing interior design full-time -- even starting her own business.

She is currently enrolled in Randolph Community College’s interior design program to learn more about the industry.

The school says the goal of its continuing education services is to have programs that are accessible to all populations.

“One of the main goals of Continuing Education and Workforce Development is to meet learners and members of the workforce where they are,” Bryle Hatch, director of workforce development at Randolph Community College, said.

“This includes offering classes at convenient times with relevant information to prepare them for career advancement and enhancement,” he added.

“I can just take this leap of faith and do something that I love. If it fails it fails, but then I won't have any regrets,” Coleman said.

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