Since 1970, Rappahannock Community College has been breaking down barriers to education throughout the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. RCC graduates form the backbone of our local economy—our healthcare providers, bankers, lawyers, small business owners and trades-people. It’s hard to go through your day without being served by an RCC alum is some way. RCC’s Faces of 50 spotlights our alumni like Yuriko Dawson.

A non-traditional college student, Yuriko Dawson faced several obstacles in her pursuit of an Associate degree. She was in her mid-40s when she enrolled at Rappahannock Community College and if that wasn’t intimidating enough for her, English is not Yuriko’s first language.

“The first semester, I only took one class. I thought if I could not keep pace with my classmates, I would drop that class,” Dawson said. “My journey at RCC started in 2015 and I graduated in 2021!” Dawson credits the staff at RCC’s King George location for helping her from start to finish. When Dawson struggled with a math class and reached out for help, Ms. Terry Abell, King George site supervisor, introduced her to a tutor. “At the end of the semester, I got an ‘A’!”

She sees community college, and RCC especially, as a great benefit to non-traditional students. RCC recognizes that students might have jobs and families to take care of but still want to continue their education.

Originally from Japan, Dawson wasn’t taught American history, so the history class she had to take at RCC was incredibly challenging. “My professor understood my situation and provided me with a tremendous amount of help,” said Dawson. 

Her advice to others is “just jump in and start with one class if you aren’t sure what you want to do. The people at RCC are there to help. If I could do it, you can do it too!”