Since 2014, Dalutha Joseph has been a fixture in the computer lab at College of The Albemarle (COA), where she could be found practicing her reading skills and completing writing assignments four days a week. She was enrolled in the community college’s Reading Horizons Elevate program on the Elizabeth City Campus and had recently earned her certificate, the culmination of a lifelong dream for Joseph.
The 57-year-old Caribbean native grew up on the island Grenada and had to leave school when she was 13 to take care of her mother who was ill. After her mom died, Joseph was left to take care of her younger brothers and sisters, and never went back to school to learn to read. It was something she always regretted, so when she moved to Camden with her husband in 2012, for his new job, she saw it as a golden opportunity to finally pursue her education.
“I felt like I was missing out,” Joseph said. “I wanted to be a part of the world. My aim was to go to school and somebody told my husband about COA. And he took me there and that’s where it started.”
The Reading Horizons coursework wasn’t easy for Joseph and she said there were plenty of moments during the past three years when she considered giving up her long-held goal. She would spend her days in the computer lab, completing reading assignments, and her nights mastering material she had gotten wrong.
“I went to class and it was very, very difficult at first, for the first few months” Joseph said. “But I was the one who needed it so I pushed on.”
It was that grit, and the support of COA’s instructors and faulty, that helped Joseph push through the rigors of the class and earn her reading certificate.
“I thought that I would never learn to read, but as time went by, I realized there was hope,” she said. “With all my teachers and tutors pushing and encouraging me, I now feel confident that I can learn.”
Joseph’s success in the Reading Horizons program has propelled her forward in her academic journey. She is currently studying to complete COA’s High School Equivalency program so she can earn her high school diploma. These days, Joseph is busy taking the required reading, writing and math classes at COA. Reading still doesn’t come easily to her, but Joseph is practices every day, eager to improve. After all, she has a lifetime of goals she’s eager to tick off her list.
Chief among them is her dream of opening up her own Caribbean restaurant. Once she completes her High School Equivalency Diploma, she plans on enrolling in COA’s Culinary Arts program at the Edenton-Chowan Campus. In the meantime, she dreams of the curry chicken and Caribbean-influenced menu her restaurant will offer. That dream, she said, and the support she has received at COA, helps push her forward in her goals.
“While I know I still have a lot to learn,” she said, “I will never give up.”