Bright and early

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Cape_Fear_bright_and_earlyUnique partnership at CFCC gives high school students a head start on college degrees

To say that Brandon Johnson has a plan is a vast understatement. He has a destiny; one which at just 17 years old, he’s already well on the path toward fulfilling. Brandon has been in college since he was 15.

In fact, he began planning to attend Wilmington Early College High School (WECHS) at Cape Fear Community College when he was in the eighth grade. This fall, he’s headed to UNC-Chapel Hill.

“The goal is to be a doctor by 29,” he says, confidently.


Brandon Johnson

Brandon’s plan is to become a cardiovascular thoracic surgeon. He also wants to study abroad. And maybe minor in psychology. And work for Doctors Without Borders. For Brandon, the sky is truly the limit.

Cape Fear Community College hosts Pender Early College and Wilmington Early College, public high schools that strive to recruit students who are looking for a learning experience that is different from traditional high schools. Brandon was a perfect fit for WECHS’ unique and challenging environment. Brandon learned about WECHS while attending Williston Middle School.

“I knew then that early college would be a good fit for me,” says Brandon. “I liked the idea of a small student body, and I wanted to get a head start on what could be an 11-year college career.”

“Brandon is a tremendously dedicated student with aspirations to do great things. He balances his coursework, achieving exemplary grades, while managing his other commitments, including serving as a student ambassador,” says Dean Heath, student recruiter at CFCC, who supervises Brandon in his role as CFCC ambassador.

In addition to a 17-hour class load this semester and his work as an ambassador, Brandon is involved in the NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) group at CFCC. He also works 20 to 30 hours a week at JCPenney and volunteers at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

“I like to be busy,” Brandon says. “I stay more focused that way.”

At CFCC, Brandon regularly attends classes with students who are decades his senior, but Brandon enjoys the experience. “I love the diversity of the student population here at CFCC,” he says. “When people find out I’m only 17, they are sometimes a little shocked, but being involved in extra-curricular activities and working with all different ages and backgrounds as an ambassador helps me to relate to everyone.”

“Being an ambassador has inspired in him a confidence that he will carry on his academic journey towards becoming a physician,” says Regina Wooten, WECHS Program Director. “Brandon has surrounded himself with positive role models who inspire, instill, and support him in his academic endeavors.”

By attending WECHS, Brandon will earn 64 credits at Cape Fear Community College and his associate’s degree, all before he can vote. And, when Brandon begins working on his public health degree at UNC-Chapel Hill this fall, he’ll already be a junior academically, with no college debt. WECHS and PECHS students can earn an Associate’s Degree at CFCC tuition-free.

“I want to be able to afford an education without burdening my mother,” says Brandon. To that end, he’s already applied for a Covenant Scholarship at UNC-Chapel Hill and recently received a scholarship from Wal-Mart.

Though he’s eager to begin the next step in his academic career, Brandon says he’ll miss CFCC. “I like the one-on-one relationships here. The WECHS program is challenging; they don’t hold your hand, but I like that. I want to know I can do it on my own, but it’s nice to know the help is there when you need it,” says Brandon.

“I love Cape Fear Community College and I want to do all I can to help CFCC continue to prosper,” Brandon says. “It’s been a wonderful experience for me.”

Want to know more?

For more information about early college programs, visit or

For information about the student ambassador program at CFCC, visit

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