Powell Receives College Degree before High School Commencement

Ernestine Powell

Ernestine Powell is the first student at Nansemond River High School to receive an associate’s degree from Paul D. Camp Community College through its dual enrollment program.


She graduated Magna cum laude with an Associate degree of Arts and Science in General Studies (General) and a Certificate in General Education at the college’s commencement on May 11. She will graduate from high school as valedictorian of her class on June 16.


“I like to finish things completely,” she said about her reasons for enrolling in the dual-credit program. “(The program) saved a lot of money and I was able to get a lot of the general education classes out of the way.”


Powell, 18, aspires to become a doctor. She was accepted to Christopher Newport University’s pre-medicine and leadership programs and will begin her studies this fall. She was also accepted at University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, The College of William and Mary and Campbell University.


“I have more classes completed, which will allow me to take more classes toward a biology degree at CNU,” she said.


She hopes to get early admission into Eastern Virginia Medical School.


“I’m thinking about becoming a cardiologist,” she said. “I am interested and my mom works with heart patients.”


Her mother, Alice, is a registered nurse at a transitional care hospital. She said she is not surprised that her only child wanted to get ahead in her studies.


“If she sets her mind on something, she will complete it,” she said. “She does her very best and it shows.”


“Her father, Ernest, also thought it would be a good idea to enroll (in the dual-credit program).”


Powell made it through an unusually busy schedule this year, taking night classes at PDCCC and TCC’s Portsmouth and Virginia Beach campuses.


“Time management became key,” she said. “I encourage others to enroll in the dual credit program, but I wouldn’t recommend taking night classes at the same time.”


She advised, “Be dedicated and not easily swayed. Do the research paper first and return that phone call later.”


Powell plans to study abroad through the leadership program at CNU and is considering applying for the Navy Health Professions program.


“I would give four years to the Navy as an active duty officer,” she said.


At Nansemond River, Powell was permitted early admittance into the Beta Club; plays oboe for the Symphonic Band; is an active participant in the community service based Voice Club; is captain of the Academic Team; and is a member of the Science Club, The Film Club and president of the Anime and Asian Culture Club. In addition, she is an orange belt in Tang Soo Do style karate.