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TCC grad has a message for women in STEM

Gracey Motley

“You have what it takes. You can do it. Start now.”

Gracey Motley offers those encouraging words for women considering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

A Women’s Center STEM Promise Program Scholar, Motley will graduate from Tidewater Community College on December  21 with an Associate of Science in Computer Science.

“When I started in STEM Promise, I didn’t feel ready or even good enough to be in the program,” she said.

Motley, 20, considered herself more the artsy type at Deep Creek High. When her guidance counselor suggested she apply for the STEM Promise Program and she earned acceptance, her future changed directions.

TCC’s STEM scholars receive four semesters of tuition and fees paid in full. They graduate ready to enter a career or to transfer to a four-year college to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Motley notes that studying computer science has been unlike anything she’s done before.

“You have to think outside the box and figure out the puzzle, especially with coding,” she said. “I especially like getting a task in class and then finding the best way to get it done.”

Motley misses being on campus with her peers, having found a close-knit student body on the Chesapeake Campus pre-COVID-19.

“It was amazing being together for events in the Student Center, whether it was drawing and painting or a seminar on STEM. There was always a lot going on, and I made some great friends.”

Motley adjusted to the pandemic and shift to remote learning with the help of Jaedda Hall, the program coordinator for STEM Promise.

“Ms. Jaedda helped build my confidence and kept me on track with my classes,” Motley said. “She was encouraging and always available to talk when I needed her.”

Motley liked remaining close to home so she could stay involved in family life. She has no student debt.

“At first, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do, so TCC was a good choice,” Motley said. “Being able to focus on school and not worry about paying off my tuition — that was great too.”

Motley will transfer to Old Dominion University for a bachelor’s in computer science. She plans to work in cyber security and has her sights set on the FBI.

“For those who’ve never considered STEM fields, have an open mind,” she said. “While these careers aren’t for everyone, try different things to find your perfect fit.”