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Woman returns to college later in life and inspires GTCC students

Woman returns to college later in life and inspires GTCC students

JAMESTOWN, N.C. (WGHP) — Although it’s not a typical college experience, going back to school later in life has been everything Joanne Martin wanted and more.

“It’s just amazing because here I was thinking, ‘Oh, you’re too old to go.’ You’re going to feel out of place,’” she said.


His life experience and knowledge are valued among his peers at Guilford Technical Community College.

“They hugged me and I hugged them,” she said.

Martin had a successful career as a physician assistant until carpal tunnel surgery forced her to explore other options.

She arrived at GTCC in 2018 and graduated with a general education diploma in 2021.

However, she felt there was still much to accomplish.

She wanted to come back to achieve a different goal after her son decided to return to GTCC to get his degree.

“I said, ‘Well, come get me, I’m going to apply, go back to school too and finish my nursing degree,’” she said.

She started her program in August 2023.

Instead of just taking classes toward her associate’s degree, Martin became active in the campus community. She even became a leader of a student government association.

“When I became a senator, my main goal was to try to do something to help the Greensboro campus. We have all these big events in Jamestown…I wanted to make sure they could have these types of events,” she said.

She is also a NC Global Researcher and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

His leadership is appreciated by his peers.

“I have the nickname of the school mother that was given by some students, so I appreciate that,” she said.

Martin received the North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award.

Each year, it is awarded to a single student from each of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges.

“At 52 years old, who would expect that out of all these wonderful students at GTCC, I would be sitting here and preparing to receive this award…It’s a blessing,” she said.

As an older student, Martin wants to use her life experiences to uplift her younger classmates.

“Last fall we were able to attend a leadership retreat, and it was incredible…Spending the weekend with so many young students and telling my story made me feel at ease,” he said. she declared. “I look around this campus and I see a lot of students who have a lot of good ideas, and I try to encourage them to go ahead and use their voice because we all have a voice.”

After Martin earns her associate’s degree in nursing from GTCC, she plans to attend North Carolina A&T State University to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the same field and eventually become an instructor.