"I want to make a difference in my community and in society as a whole, and to be a role model to the children in my family.”
Like many Daytona State students, Norma Poole-Bland has big plans. The first-time-in-college student wants to earn as many degrees as she can, culminating with a law degree she hopes will help her advocate on behalf of families and children in crisis.
Along the way, she plans on bringing hope and inspiration to as many fellow students as she can. It is that sense of service along with her sound 3.44 cumulative GPA that earned her a spot on this year’s list of Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges.
Bland is no ordinary student. She’s a 65-year-old mother, grandmother, student and longtime social activist who views her age as a badge of experience rather than a hindrance when it comes to her academic ambitions. The criminal justice-focused associate of arts degree major brings over 40 years of civic activism to Daytona State, and often is seen working with and for minority groups at the college and throughout the local area. She works with local law enforcement for safe streets and safe neighborhoods, volunteers with the 7th Judicial Circuit to help families of homicide victims, and does HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy outreach.
"I want to make a difference in my community and in society as a whole, and to be a role model to the children in my family,” she said of her reasons for enrolling in college. “If I can do it, they can do it."
Bland's first college degree will come after long careers in the Department of Juvenile Justice and at Bethune-Cookman University. “I was fortunate that I was able to function during a time and in an environment where I didn’t need a college education,” she said, noting that employers valued her for her working experience and tended to overlook her lack of academic credentials. “For the most part, those days are gone now. It’s rare that a young person can get any experience without first getting the education.”
Bland said her professors have been outstanding. “They believe in me, inspire me. I’ve been able to pick up the tools they’ve given me and soar.”
Now, she’s ready to continue on her path of helping others. “If I can do something to strengthen domestic violence laws or help modify various other laws on the books on behalf of different causes on behalf of women, children and minorities, then that’s where I’d like to be.”
This article was prepared by student Rebecca Roberts.