Paul D. Camp Community College student inspired to get back on track after personal struggles

Micah ThomasDespite all his personal challenges, Micah Thomas didn’t give up on his education. He earned three scholarships, and was selected to represent the college at the Virginia General Assembly and the Student Leadership Conference since enrolling at PDCCC.
When Micah Thomas lost his mother in 2005, he was only 10 years old.
“It sent me off my path and I was kind of lost,” he said. “She was my motivation—my biggest inspiration.”
Born and raised in Suffolk, Thomas graduated from Kings Fork High School in 2012. The youngest of six children, the first-generation student always knew that he wanted to go to college, as his parents had encouraged him to do. But his mother’s death left a void that made it difficult for Thomas to move forward with the same positive stride.
But with the support of his sister and encouragement from others, he found the strength to return to his focus of continuing education during his senior year in high school when he took two advanced placement courses to make up “for lost time.” His interest in math and science was reignited during his AP Biology class with Mrs. Story.
“By this time, my father was ill,” he said. And although Thomas qualified for eight college credits after scoring a perfect 5 on the AP Biology exam, his GPA wasn’t high enough to secure a full scholarship to a four-year college or university.
“I didn’t want my father to have the added stress of paying for my college education,” he said. “I came to PDCCC with the mindset of applying for financial aid and if I didn’t qualify, I wasn’t going to go.”
Thomas enrolled at PDCCC, taking mostly online computer science courses while also taking care of his dad, a responsibility that was increasing by the day for the 18-year-old. The only sibling still living in the household, Thomas was soon overwhelmed, struggling to take care of the bill payments, legal issues, medicine management and household maintenance, and keep up with his online classes. He ultimately had to withdraw from a couple of classes and received incomplete status in two others.
Thomas’ father passed in February 2013 Thomas was now faced with tending to his father’s affairs, making funeral arrangements and preparing for out-of-town relatives. In addition, his father had only been able to take Thomas out for a few driving lessons during his illness.
Visiting the Hobbs Suffolk Campus in Fall 2014, he met with Sandra Walker of the Students Transitioning through Education Programs Successfully (STEPS). “She did so much for me,” he said. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here (in college) right now.”
She supplied Thomas with resources and referred him to Student Support Services and the Career Development Center, where Lisha Wolfe helped him get funding through Opp Inc. and an internship with RFK Solutions. Prior to his internship, he took on a job in the computer lab as a work-study student.
“I was able to take my training in the computer lab to RFK, and they suggested I get several IT certifications.” RFK began partnering with PDCCC to offer these certifications, and during his spring semester, Thomas was taking a full load of classes during the day, three hours of certification classes in the evening and working in the computer lab. He also served as a math tutor for Student Support Services and is currently the vice president of the PDCCC Literary Club.
“There have been times when I forgot to eat,” he said. “But I felt like if I slowed down, I might stop.”
When Thomas completes his studies this summer and graduates in May 2016, he will have earned his associate’s degree in General Studies-Computer Science, as well as certificates in General Education, Hardware & Software Support, and Computer Support Specialist. He plans to transfer to Old Dominion University this fall to earn his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and apply to graduate school for biomedical engineering.
“There are too many people I want to thank to list them all,” said Thomas. “But after coming here and receiving hope from so many others, I have been inspired to keep going.”