Some people start their post-high school career with a path set in stone. Each step of the route is carefully measured and planned out. But for others, there is a bit of growing that is involved in their path, and the steps are taken more carefully.
A recent graduate of Rappahannock Community College, April Wobken, is part of the second category of college student. After she graduated from Gloucester High School in 2013, she thought she would start down the same path as many of her peers. She applied to a four-year school but was not accepted. This first alteration of the “normal” path through college started April on the path to RCC, and eventually to the University of Mary Washington.
“Originally I wanted to go to Christopher Newport University right out of high school, but they did not take me because of my math,” says April. “I was discouraged from that experience.”
After the letter from CNU, April decided to try working for a while. Her thought was that perhaps she did not need more schooling and that she’d rather make money instead. She spent time working at GameStop and Cook Out, served as a lifeguard and taught yoga as well.
“While I was working, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t care about money! I want something better than this’,” says April.
It was her parents who recommended that April try out RCC. This turned out to be a smart decision for her since she always felt like weakness in math was what kept her from entering CNU. She started and then stopped again, and restarted at RCC in Spring 2016, and was able to work through all of her math classes, thanks to helping from RCC math professor Therese Johnson.
“Prof. Johnson was so very nice to me,” says April. “My other developmental math teachers did pretty well too, but Prof. Johnson took the extra mile. She was so encouraging and would get excited for her students. I love that sort of teacher.
“Thanks to her, I got through developmental math,” says April. “And even after that, with Algebra and statistics, I would go to her, and she still helped me, even though I wasn’t her student. I appreciated her because math is my worst subject.”
With the help of Therese Johnson, and another Prof. Johnson — Lori Johnson — an English professor at the RCC New Kent Site, April was quickly racing toward her goal of earning an Associate of Arts and Sciences Transfer Degree.
During all of this, April became a part of the Student Ambassador team, who work events for the College, attend events and represent RCC in public and assist new students as they start orientation.
“When I first got the student ambassador job, I had a lot of jobs, so I was like ‘I don’t care if I get this.’ I got called in, and I thought that it was not a big deal if I get this. And then I got it,” says April. “And it took a while to settle in and I though, ‘I am so glad that I got this job.’ This job and yoga were the only jobs that I haven’t gotten tired of.”
Though her time as a Student Ambassador was a working position, she found that this post made her feel closer to RCC in general.
“I liked having a leadership role,” says April. “Sometimes even when I was off the clock and in class, a student would come into the wrong classroom, and others would say that I was a student ambassador and that I can help. Being looked at as someone who can help people and point them in the right direction, I like.”
In May of 2017, April earned her degree from RCC and will transfer to Mary Washington this Fall. She intends to double-major in English and psychology, which she hopes will allow her to create stories and books that will be both exciting and therapeutic.
“I have found that in tough times if you can find a really exciting story, that can bring excitement to your life,” says April. “But I like psychology too; I feel like I understand it. It would make my writing better too.”
Before she leaves Gloucester for Mary Washington, April is planning one last pit stop on her path. She’s organizing an AIDS charity event, which combines her love for yoga and her favorite musician, the late Freddie Mercury of Queen.
Her “Yoga for Freddie” event will take place at the Gloucester Yoga Studio on August 6 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and will benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, which fundraises for AIDS awareness and research worldwide. All are invited to attend.
Reflecting upon how things have changed for her since 2011, April has a soft spot in her heart for RCC and has become sort of a champion for the community college experience in general.
“I think RCC is a great option,” says April. You can’t mess it up. With a four-year school, there is so much more expectation and pressure. But with a community college, you can still live your life and figure things out. It’s best to keep things that way so you can figure things out.
“Here you can do that, and there are a lot of faculty who are very helpful,” says April. “When people talk to me, and they tell me that they are graduating from high school, I say that I know that four-year colleges look good, but I think you should look into a community college.
“It’s not as flashy from the outside, but once you get in — it’s really cool.”