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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : community : community October 1, 2020

5/18/2020 4:59:00 PM
Tyler Southward Flourished At Gaston College
Michigan native benefits from support of faculty and peers
Tyler Southward(Photo Courtesy Gaston College)
Tyler Southward

(Photo Courtesy Gaston College)

Lincoln Herald Staff

Tyler Southward truly flourished during his time at Gaston College.

That’s the word this week from college spokeswoman Stephanie Michael Pickett. She explained that Southward was 24 years old when he started at Gaston College in 2018.

A native of Saginaw, Mich., who moved to North Carolina in 2014, he’d never been an enthusiastic student and had dropped out of high school. But in his early 20’s, Southward decided to commit himself to his education and his community.

“I was both determined to succeed and uncertain whether I could,” he said. “I wondered if the years that I had not taken school seriously would come back to haunt me.”

But those doubts were soon dispelled. Southward is among this month’s graduates of Gaston College. He has earned an associate in science degree, and he has many achievements and accolades to his credit.

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With his 4.0 GPA, Southward was on the president’s list each semester. He was named the Gaston College Arts and Science Student of the Year for 2020. He also completed the college’s Scholars of Global Distinction program, which prepares students to be culturally competent global citizens in an increasingly global job market. Through the program, Southward visited the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Estonia.

“I wanted to participate in the program,” he said, “because it offered the opportunity to extend my learning beyond the classroom and into the world.”

Brian Bookout, an instructor of history and sociology and chairman of the Global Imprints Team, recently lauded Southward’s efforts.

“Aside from being a great student in the classroom,” said Bookout, “Tyler is one of the most inquisitive students we have had, and I always saw him in deep conversation with various faculty members about life, careers and educational opportunities. He is an excellent example to current and future students of the possibilities that life holds. Furthermore, his educational experience helps highlight the quality of the faculty and programs at Gaston College and what can be accomplished here.”

The doubts that Southward had regarding his ability to succeed in an academic setting receded with each successful semester at Gaston College.

“I was able to thrive on the support of my professors and peers,” he said. “I learned that community support can enable a person to flourish more than individual effort alone. Along the way, my professors illuminated previously unseen opportunities by expressing confidence in my potential, and my peers helped me learn more effectively by participating in group study sessions.”

Southward will soon attend North Carolina State University as a participant in the prestigious Goodnight Scholars Program, which prepares North Carolina’s top STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talent to become transformational leaders. He will major in statistics, and he plans to go on to earn a master of science degree. His career goal is to work as a data analyst in the Research Triangle area.

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