By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
On Thursday, Forsyth Middle College senior Chandler Robinson and her father, Glenwood Robinson, will both receive degrees from Forsyth Technical Community College.
Along with being the first Middle College student to complete her associate’s degree while still in high school, Chandler is also on track to be named the valedictorian when Middle College holds its high school graduation ceremony on May 26.
Her father started taking classes at Forsyth Tech a few months before she did, which inspired her and led to her saying to herself, “If he can do it, I can do it.”
“The fact that he could do so well at Forsyth Tech gave me a lot of motivation,” Chandler said. “He set a really good example for me.”
“We have that competitive spirit sometimes,” her father Glenwood said.
Chandler went to The Downtown School and to Hanes Magnet School before starting high school at Atkins Academic & Technology High School. Chandler transferred to Middle College the second semester of her sophomore year because she wanted to begin taking college classes.
Middle College is on the campus of Forsyth Tech, and students going to Middle College can take classes at Forsyth Tech while still in high school. “Originally, I just went with the intention of getting college credit,” Chandler said. Later, she decided that she wanted to go ahead and earn an associate’s degree while earning her high school diploma. To make it all work, she took classes during the summer, and, during basketball season, she might stay up until 1 a.m.
Her parents supported her decision. “We felt like Middle College would give her that extra edge,” her father said.
Chandler had been playing basketball at Atkins, and, after transferring, she received a waiver to continue playing for Atkins.
Principal William Wynn III praised her ability to balance the challenges of academics, athletics and being a teenager with grace. “Chandler is a jewel among students,” Wynn said. “She is smart, friendly, well-mannered and gets along with peers and adults.”
“Chandler is an exceptional student who does everything to an elevated level,” said Lisa Nakawatase, who teaches social studies at Middle College. “She is serious about her future and it reflects in her everyday performance both inside and out of the classroom.”
Chandler and her father are proud of each other. “She works well under pressure,” Glenwood said, “and I am proud of her burning a lot of the midnight oil to make a great accomplishment.”
At Atkins, she was also a member of the Key Club. For all four years of high school, she has participated in Upward Bound and Crosby Scholars. This year, she is on the board of the Student Government Association at Middle College.
“I stay busy,” she said. “I can’t stand not being busy.” It’s a trait she inherited from both parents, she said.
Her mother, Pam, is a project manager for Wells Fargo. Both Chandler and Glenwood said that the support of Pam made all of their educational goals possible. For one, Glenwood said, she encouraged him to go back to college. “She gave me that little push I needed.”
While Glenwood and Chandler were in school, the family also had to deal with Pam having breast cancer and with Glenwood ending up in the hospital for a week.
“He is a very determined person,” Chandler said. “If something needs to get done, he will get it done. I am proud of him for going back and getting the higher education.”
These days, Chandler drives to school, but when she started taking college classes, she did not yet have her driver’s license so she and her father would ride to the campus together. Once on campus, Glenwood said, he did his best to keep a low profile as far as his daughter was concerned.
“I didn’t want to cramp her style,” he said. “I wanted to give her space.”
In the beginning, Glenwood said, they had a little competition going to see who would get the best grades. He dropped that the day he proudly announced that his 3.65 grade-point average put him on the Dean’s List at Forsyth Tech only to have her say, “Oh, look, I made the President’s List.” It takes at least a 4.0 grade-point average to make that.
Their competitive spirit still shows up when they shoot skeet or go bass fishing together. Then, they might see who catches the first fish, the biggest fish and the most fish.
These days, Glenwood Robinson works in IT at Avid Solutions Inc. His journey to Forsyth Tech began with changes at his old job. After working for TE Connectivity for 15 years, he and others learned that their jobs were being sent to Mexico. To receive their severance packages, they had to train the new employees in Mexico. After doing that, he found himself unemployed.
After graduating from high school in Fayetteville, Glenwood had gone to Fayetteville State University for 1 ½ years before his life took a different turn. Over the years, he had thought about going back to college. This seemed like the time to do it. Plus, a federal program pays tuition for people who go to college after their job has been sent to another country.
Glenwood finished his degree in December. In his new job, which he has had since November, his responsibilities include building computers for employees and working on the IT help desk. He plans to go on with his schooling and earn a bachelor’s degree through an online program at East Carolina University.
In the fall, Chandler will go Salem College. She is receiving three scholarships, including one from Wells Fargo. “I plan to major in biology,” she said. “I also plan to play basketball at Salem.”
At present, she plans to become a forensic pathologist, which would mean going to medical school plus more years of training after that. “I have a long road ahead of me,” she said.
Chandler’s teachers feel that she is prepared to handle whatever comes along that road. “She is loved by everyone who knows her because of her humble nature,” said Lisa Nakawatase. Chandler is intelligent, well-rounded and helps everyone around her without hesitation. She consistently walks through life with grace, poise and ease. She is the definition of a true class act!”