Damonica Smith on her way towards degree

May 19—HENDERSON — Damonica Smith is close to getting her GED thanks to specialized equipment from Vance-Granville Community College.

Smith is a person with quadriplegia, meaning she doesn't have the use of her limbs. State Rep. Frank Sossamon and VGCC President Rachel Desmarais visited her on Friday to congratulate her on her academic achievement.

"[Smith] reached out to Rep. Sossamon and Dr. Desmarais. Once she brought her name to me, at first, I had to figure out how to get it done. It was a first for me to try to provide educational support to a student at this level," said VGCC Dean of Workforce Readiness, Health and Public Safety Angela Simmons.

She said Smith had requested just a voice-to-text feature.

"She was confident she could complete her GED with little to no support," said Simmons. "And, once we gave her a pretest, downloaded the software and the voice-to-text feature, she has been able to work independently. She has completed most of her assignments and I think she is at the point where she is ready for official testing."

Smith should get her GED before July, said Simmons. Her goal afterward is to get a degree.

"I'm thinking about doing business and administration, or getting my certificates to become a speaker, a motivational speaker," said Smith.

"She motivates me," said the dean. "And so, her desire to complete and overcome her obstacles have actually given me motivation to just pursue challenges that I wouldn't normally pursue."

As for the process of earning a GED, Smith said the following:

"I have made mistakes in the past, so I feel like it's an opportunity to teach other people that, even if they're in my situation, they can still accomplish things."

"I'm honored to represent you," Sossamon told Smith. He said he was proud of her. "You're a better woman than I am a man," he told her.

Sossamon wished her luck and noted later that it was worth his effort and time to honor Smith's request.

"It was the least I could do," the representative said.

He noted that education is for everybody. Desmarais agreed.

"Education is for everyone," said Desmarais. "I think that, oftentimes, it's just the connection, it's the contact and it's understanding who needs what, when, where, how. It takes a village, truly, because [Sossamon] helped us get connected with someone who had a need, and that's the way it works. People can't always come to us, we can't always go out because we don't always know where or who."