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Howard-bound student grateful TCC got him back on track

Ansari Smith loved his first semester at Morehouse College in Atlanta, but couldn’t handle the price tag. Tuition alone exceeded $12,000 – for one semester.

A native of Hampton Roads, he transferred to Tidewater Community College and will leave with no debt thanks to the financial aid he received. Perhaps more importantly, he has the tools to thrive inside the classroom and out, thanks to all he learned as a TCC student. After summer classes, he will move on this fall to Howard University to work toward his bachelor’s in marketing.

“Everyone here has made me feel appreciated and wanted,” said Smith, whose home campus is Portsmouth. “To have that feeling come from a staff, it encourages you and makes you want to do better. I know they’re looking for my success in the future, and that’s a good pressure for me to have.”

He lists chemistry professor Derek Laws and Portsmouth Student Center director Katina Barnes as inspirations.

Smith embraced the nurturing environment at TCC, finding much-needed support through the Open Door Project, a Department of Education TRIO program that provides services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Last year, the college received two separate grants – one for the Norfolk Campus and the other for the Portsmouth Campus – to maintain the program.

Among the services provided: academic, career and financial advising, tutoring, cultural development and the loan of laptops and calculators.

“The TRIO program helped me stay on track,” said Smith, who received tutoring in pre-calculus and writing.

Through testing, he realized he was a visual learner, needing to write down information to retain it. “I have to see it to learn it,” he said. “It helps to know your own learning style.”

Smith said he’s also benefitted from TCC’s help with resume writing, and applying for scholarships. Once he graduates from Howard, he wants to become a web consultant, showing businesses how they can maximize their potential through their websites.

His own wallet, by the way, is in much better shape thanks to his time at the college. A work-study job and the Pell Grant he received allowed him to save money this semester and finally buy that much needed car.

Grateful for all he received from his grandparents, with whom he resides, and from TCC, he’s happy to say, “I’m on my way.”