For any community college student trying to get up to speed in a developmental class, Tawan Perry has this message: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Perry, who spoke to students on the MCC-Blue River and MCC-Penn Valley campuses recently, spent two years taking developmental classes at a community college after failing the English and math placement tests.
But today Perry, who hails from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has a master’s degree and is the author of 10 books, including “College Sense: What College and High School Advisors Don’t Tell You about College.”
When he was stuck in those early classes, he pushed through despite obstacles like failing a test “because I knew what was on the other side.”
Perry is big on audience interaction. At Penn Valley, after students played a quick game of musical chairs, he asked how the exercise could apply to life.
“You’re gonna have to stand up when everything else is pulled away from you,” one audience member said. And always keep moving, she added.
“I don’t think I could have said it any better,” Perry replied.
He asked the audience to draw five columns on a piece of paper. The categories:
- Things I’ve achieved that I’m proud of.
- Goals — things I want to achieve in the future.
- Assign a time frame to those goals (such as one year, three years, lifetime, etc.).
- For each goal, answer “Why is this so important?”
- Action steps for each goal. What must you do to achieve them?
For instance, Perry said, if a struggling student’s goal is to earn an “A,” action steps might include seeing the instructor during office hours and making an appointment with a tutor.
Perry is also big on keeping to-do lists. That’s a habit he picked up in community college.
He also asked each audience member to draw a tree with roots. This exercise was about deciding which people in your life are assets and which are liabilities.
The roots people are those you can depend on, who will support you.
The branches people are those you can depend on some of the time. But in stormy weather, will they break or hold strong?
Perry’s program ended with a pledge of allegiance “to myself and to who I want to be.”
Katina Wiley, a Penn Valley student from Kansas City, declared Perry’s talk “awesome” and “amazing.”
“It was something that I needed,” added Wiley, who would like to write her own book someday. Possible title: “The Struggles of Life.”
Samantha Alberto, a Penn Valley student and peer mentor from Independence, said Perry gave students a push and the hope that they can become success stories like him.