Wilson Community College Students Earn Awards

It’s no secret that Wilson Community College, and every institution for that matter, is proud of its students.  Students are consistently recognized for a number of things, including state-level awards, honor societies, scholarships, and more.  WCC recently awarded two state-level awards.

Ray Celaya-Orozco was selected for the Dallas Herring Achievement Award.  This award was established by the North Carolina Community College System in 2010 to honor the late Dr. Dallas Herring, one of the state’s earliest advocates of community colleges.  It’s given each year to a current or former student who best embodies Dr. Herring’s philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go.”

Ray is a December 2022 graduate of WCC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy.  Oftentimes, cadets come into the BLET program working in some fashion with law enforcement or have relatives or mentors that have had careers in the field. In Ray’s case, it was neither. He walked in on the first day of class with no job, with only a determined will to find a career to support his family.

After becoming a US citizen earlier in 2022, he knew he wanted to become a police officer. He secured his own law enforcement sponsor, a requirement to be enrolled in the program. There was no guarantee that he would have a job once he graduated.

The BLET program is both academically and physically demanding. Ray quickly adjusted to the rigors of the program, but not without his challenges. Financially, he found ways to pay for the over $500 per month insurance for his wife and newborn. Since the cost to add himself was so expensive, he chose to be uninsured throughout the program.  He excelled academically with BLET Coordinator Billy Radford, noting that he was a great student.

Ray was continually looking for ways to help his fellow cadets. He regularly met at a local gym to help encourage and increase the fitness level of a fellow classmate. Oftentimes, this was after demanding physical class days.

Through hard work, determination, and the opportunity provided to him by the BLET program, Ray succeeded in finding his career. He was hired by the Wilson Police Department when he graduated. All of his sacrifices to land his dream job and serve our community are just a few reasons why he was chosen for the Dallas Herring Award. We’re so honored to have him serve and protect our great city.

And the second state-level recognition is the North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award.  One student from each of the 58 community colleges receives this award each year.  To be selected, students must be currently enrolled, have completed at least 12 hours in a degree program, and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher.  WCC’s award winner this year is Karen Avellaneda-Robles, who is a senior at Wilson Academy of Applied Technology. She’ll graduate in a couple of weeks with her high school diploma and an A.A.S. in biotechnology.

Taking high school courses and college-level classes is a huge undertaking, but Karen has excelled in all of her classes.  And not only that, she is also working as an apprentice at Global Laboratory Services, Inc.  She will attend NC State University in the fall with plans to major in biochemistry in hopes of working in the pharmaceutical field upon graduation.

Karen began her journey at Wilson Community College amid a pandemic, which was a difficult time for many students, especially students in programs that require hands-on experience like biotechnology.  However, she has successfully demonstrated that hard work, dedication, and persistence pay off.

We’re so proud of all of our students, and we’re excited to celebrate these two in particular.

For more information about the awards or WCC, visit our website at www.wilsoncc.edu.  Don’t forget that registration is open. #WilsonCC We make Wilson work.


NOW – Summer & Fall Registration
May 18 – Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy Graduation
May 19 – ADN Pinning Ceremony
May 19 – College Graduation

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Due to the threat of severe weather, the college will be closed on Friday, September 7, 2023.