O’Sheena Monk does not give up easily.
“I’m not the type who likes to fail,” she says, her face set with determination.
O’Sheena is in her last semester at Sampson Community College, and has fought hard to maintain her high GPA while working on campus and part-time at BoJangles, all while attending to her duties at home, caring for her relatives.
Her educational journey began in the Union district, where she was held back in the fourth grade. This was a pivotal point for O’Sheena—she made a decision at that moment that she would do whatever it took to stay ahead of the game from that moment on. “I had a hard time in school understanding. Some people can sit in class and not take notes and catch on? It takes more for me to learn, so I was in the books all the time. I didn’t want to get behind anymore.”
Her dedication to her schooling paid off, and just a few years later she was recognized by the Union Middle School faculty as a high achieving student, and was put into an early graduation program when she entered Union High. During her time at UHS she was in Beta Club, Art Club, History Club, served as secretary of the FFA, and worked at the front desk. O’Sheena was also a dual-enrolled student, taking CNA classes at SCC along with her high school curriculum. Family tragedy, however, led her to discontinue the extra classes.
“My sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, then my paternal grandmother died. Six days later, my maternal grandmother died as well.” O’Sheena spent her time outside of school caring for her ailing and grieving family members, including a sickly grandfather.
Her experiences in dealing with her loved ones’ sicknesses as well as her mother’s career as a nurse led to her interest in the medical field. Upon her high school graduation in 2012, she applied to SCC with the intention of pursuing a nursing career of her own.
Since her enrollment, O’Sheena’s interests have taken her in a different direction. Her sister, a social worker, had a special client she was working with—a young boy with developmental disabilities. As O’Sheena learned about the boy, she became interested in helping a wider variety of people, especially children, with a wider variety of problems. “Watching her [my sister] help him inspired me to want to work with kids in that capacity.” Now O’Sheena plans to pursue a four-year degree in social work. She is debating between programs at UNCG and UNCW.
Her SCC classes have also piqued her interest in the field of social work, particularly her class in Developmental Psychology: “Developmental Psych taught about each stage that a child goes through—it lets you know that people who need help have specific psychological needs. This makes the job even more important.” O’Sheena knows that there will be challenges in the field, but is ready for them. “I won’t mind working with kids who have a disorder, because a lot of people feel that they won’t go far, but I think if you work with people they can succeed. We’re all the same…just some of us have more challenges.”
In addition to her classwork, O’Sheena’s extracurricular activities have helped to prepare her for the workplace. She works at SCC in the business office, Financial Aid department, and at the switchboard. She enjoys these positions because they are good resume builders, but also because “it is nice being considered a part of the school.”
Her work ethic has earned her many fans on the campus, including librarian Carol McLamb.
“O’Sheena was my work study student in the library. She was always willing to do more than what she was asked and did a very good job at what she did,” McLamb said. “O’Sheena always has something nice to say to others and has a sweet disposition about her. I enjoyed working with her and have missed her in the library this semester.”
In terms of her academic achievement, her teachers all agree on one thing: O’Sheena Monk is a tenacious student. She dedicates 100 percent to academic success, and usually achieves it.
“I always strive to be at the top. I know there will be some times that it’s not going to go my way, but I just strive harder, study more, and use the extra help that’s around me. In the long run it’s going to pay off.”
Even in math, a difficult subject, O’Sheena always puts her nose to the grindstone. Math instructor Melissa Ezzell has been impressed by O’Sheena’s refusal to quit: “As a math instructor, it is unusual and exciting to find a student with who is as dedicated and determined as O’Sheena. Even after struggling with a particular concept (and a very hard one for students, I might add), she would not be satisfied with just a ‘passing grade.’ She would always tell me that her grade wasn’t good enough and that she wanted a better grade. She always earned a higher grade because she had a strong work ethic and a heart of determination. O’Sheena never missed class, completed all her assignments, and attended tutoring opportunities. What more you can you ask for?”
With her solid track record, O’Sheena has a bright academic future ahead of her—one that she plans to get the most out of. Her motivation and drive are admirable, and were instilled in her by her family.
As she says, “My granddaddy told me before he died to get as much education as I can because that’s something that no one can take away.”