Edward Kline readily admits he misspent his youth, making unwise decisions that often landed him in trouble.
But for the past few years, the 30-year-old College of The Albemarle student has focused on righting those wrongs. Since the spring of 2012, when Kline enrolled as a student at COA’s Dare County campus, he has thrown himself into campus life and has undertaken numerous community service projects, becoming a leader among his fellow students.
And his good works have not gone unnoticed.
This month, the school nominated Kline for the Governor Robert Scott Student Leadership Award. The statewide award will be given out later this year and recognizes a student who has demonstrated leadership in their community.
Steve Woodburn, COA’s vice president of student success and enrollment, said Kline fits the bill. “From the moment he became a student, he decided he wanted to be involved,” Woodburn said. “I think Edward’s leadership is by example, but not by dominance. He’s going to prove his leadership by his actions, not necessarily by his words.”
During the past two years as a student on COA’s Dare County campus, Kline has chaired an area coat, food and toy drive and has also served as chair of a local Veteran’s Day committee. In the fall of 2012, he served as a senator in the the school’s Student Government Association. A year later he served as senate chair of the SGA and is currently serving as parliamentarian. Last spring, Kline was named SGA’s Community Service Volunteer for his work reading to local elementary school students, and in spring 2012 and spring 2013, he was twice awarded the Inspirational Student Award by Dare County.
And throughout it all, Kline maintained a 3.4 GPA and made Dean’s List.
He even managed to bring three of COA’s campuses together for the school’s first Tri-campus Corn Hole Tournament, which he chaired.
“It was an activity to get all three campuses competing against each other,” Woodburn said. “That emphasized the concept that we were one college with unique campuses.”
Kline said he got the idea to bring the three campuses together shortly after becoming a COA student.
“There was a big lack of communication and cohesion that first year, so I was trying to think of a fun way to get all the students involved,” Kline said, referring to the school’s Elizabeth City, Edenton and Dare campuses.
Kline admits that first event wasn’t easy to coordinate, but it has been unifying for the school.
“It had its hiccups,” he said. “But it got the ball rolling and now people are seeing that it’s not just Elizabeth City or Edenton, it’s all one big group.”
Kline expects to graduates in spring 2015 with his Associate’s Degree in Science. After that, he plans on transferring to North Carolina State University and eventually earning his doctorate in veterinary medicine.
Until then, Kline plans to continue to lead by example. Currently, he is working to create a permanent reading program at four Dare County elementary schools that will allow COA students to visit the schools each week and read to the kindergarten, first and second-grade classes.
Kline said his philosophy is to lead by doing.
“If you’re doing something positive, other people will get infected by it,” Kline said. “It goes the same way for negative stuff. My younger years were spent not making the wisest of decisions, so I’m trying to give back to my community for the havoc I wrecked, and trying to be a good role model for my 4-year-old daughter.”