Essence Edwards. (Photo by Carla Kucinski)

Essence Edwards. (Photo by Carla Kucinski)

By Jana Caver

Guilford Technical Community College wasn’t what Essence Edwards expected when she first enrolled in 2014.

“I began at GTCC with a negative mindset … one of the mindsets where you think, ‘it’s just a community college,’” said Edwards of Greensboro.

She admits that GTCC was not her first choice. However, her outlook on being a GTCC student changed once she became involved in the student community. Her mother, Joanna Gray – a former GTCC student and secretary of GTCC’s Student Government Association (SGA) – encouraged Edwards to follow suit. At first, Edwards took her mother’s advice because she thought it would be a good resumé builder, but as she learned more about SGA, she saw the opportunity as much more.

“I realized that it was something I really, really, liked,” Edwards said. “I’m really passionate about getting people involved on campus and having school spirit.

“SGA tries to give GTCC more life by getting the students involved or by at least providing multiple chances for entertainment while on campus.”

As the 2014 Evening Student Representative for SGA, Edwards helped market events by creating promotional flyers — an experience that eventually led her to choose marketing as a career.

“I want to be a creative director of something.  … Being able to advertise for a company, or multiple companies … owning my own marketing company; that would be amazing,” she said.

That passion led Edwards to other opportunities to be more involved on campus. In spring 2015 she served as vice president of the Women Achieving Success club and was nominated to serve on the Greensboro College Commission, an advisory board formed by the Greensboro City Council to provide insight into what will attract and retain students in the community. She went on to become vice president of clubs and president of Women Achieving Success in fall 2015.  These positions allowed her to dive deeper into the GTCC community and represent the student body.

In May, Edwards graduated with an associate in arts degree. She attributes her successful academic career to her involvement in student life.

“I gained a lot of leadership skills from SGA. Also, some school spirit that allowed me to try and help many students realize the opportunities that GTCC holds for us,” she said. “We are not at a disadvantage by attending a community college.”

Edwards plans to transfer to a four-year institution in the fall, but she will not forget where she came from.

“I’m proud to be a Titan,” she said. “I’m proud to honor an institution that doesn’t always receive the credit it deserves, yet continues to offer these opportunities and do great things in the community.”


— June 8, 2016