By Jana Carver

Guilford Technical Community College was the college experience Danielle Wiggins was looking for.

“I needed something different,” said Wiggins, 25, of Hartford, Conn. “I was out of school for three years because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was trying to figure it out.”

Wiggins said she spoke to multiple people in her life, hoping to find a career path that would work for her. But, in the end, her path kind of found her.

“I started helping with the paperwork and finances at my job—I was a shift leader at a pizza place—and I realized I was good at it,” Wiggins said. “Then my boss told me that people go to school to do that kind of stuff, so I thought, ‘Let’s try that.’”

She enrolled in GTCC in fall 2015 to pursue a degree in accounting.

However, even after choosing her path, Wiggins said that forming an academic plan and putting it into action was a process. But she did not have to do it alone. Caring faculty were there to help her identify career goals and courses that complement her major, as well as which schools she should consider transferring to for her bachelor’s degree.

“When I first came here, I had no idea where to go or which classes to take,” she said.

Now her path is clear. Wiggins is pursuing a career in forensic accounting, with the goal of one day working for the FBI.

“It seems really interesting because you’re looking for fraud. I think it will be fun,” she said.

During her time at GTCC, Wiggins hasn’t just learned about what it takes to go into her chosen field; she’s also learned a lot about herself, she said. She’s participated in the Model United Nations Club and GTCC’s Spanish Club, where she has served as club president since the start of the fall 2016 semester. Getting involved with both clubs has allowed her to create lasting friendships, particularly with her two best friends, Ruth Obas and Lindsay Pendleton.

“If I’m not home … I’m honestly with Lindsay and Ruth, playing board games or just hanging out,” she said.

Having these connections help keep her grounded.  

“I think joining a club helps you make friends and figure out your purpose in life,” she said. “Plus, if you’re stressed out over school, there are most likely other people in the club who get that and can help you take a break. … You’re not alone.”

In January, Wiggins began her junior year at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. But she will always remember that GTCC was the first step toward her education and career.

“The friends that I have made and the teachers I’ve met here, who want to help students better their lives and have helped me better mine, have all been amazing,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”