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BRCC student overcomes long odds to win statewide award

BRCC President Laura Leatherwood poses with Paralee Cox, a soon-to-be Blue Ridge surgical technology graduate who received the Dallas Herring Achievement Award. [RICH KEEN/BRCC Marketing & Communications]

Paralee Cox, a soon-to-be surgical technology graduate at Blue Ridge Community College, has been selected out of 58 community college nominees as the North Carolina Community College System Dallas Herring Achievement Award recipient.

Created in 2010 by the North Carolina Community College System, the award honors the late Dr. Dallas Herring, whose philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go” is the guiding principle of the system. The award is given annually to a current or former community college student in North Carolina who best embodies Herring’s philosophy.

Cox has overcome tremendous odds, raised by parents who allowed drugs and violence to be a normal part of the home environment. In and out of foster homes beginning at age 9, she was sentenced in 2014 to five years in federal prison for drug-related charges. After earning her GED, she was able to make the right connections and has been an accomplished student at BRCC.

“I am so proud to be launching my new career, and it all started one day when I wrote to Blue Ridge Community College from prison,” said Cox, who is now employed by Pardee UNC Health Care as a surgical technician. “Blue Ridge helped me every step of the way with anything I needed to accomplish my goals. They will go to bat for you. If I can complete a degree and be recognized with an award like this, it is possible for anyone.”

“Paralee truly represents Dr. Herring’s philosophy,” BRCC President Laura B. Leatherwood said. “She has persevered and overcome so much in order to make a better life for herself through education and a new career. We are so honored to have her as one of our students.”