Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

2021 CCC&TI Graduate Earns Degree Started in 2007

2021 CCC&TI Graduate Earns Degree Started in 2007

In May of 2021, CCC&TI honored hundreds of students who persevered through a year of uncertainty and questions to reach their goal of college graduation. It was an accomplishment worth celebrating for every graduate. For Early Childhood Education graduate Candy Stamey, hearing her name called and being handed her degree was a moment of triumph more than a decade in the making.

Stamey, a Caldwell County native, discovered a love for children and teaching through a part-time childcare job she held while still a student at Hibriten High School in Lenoir. After graduating in 2005, she married and had a son but continued working, now full time, in the childcare field. In 2007, she enrolled in CCC&TI’s Early Childhood Education program to work on earning her degree in the field she had already grown to love. “I loved caring for children and seeing them learn and grow and master new skills,” she said, “and I knew that I needed my credentials in Early Childhood Education to stay employed.”

The challenges of being a college student while also being a mom and working full time was at times daunting. Stamey says she also went through a divorce in her first years as a student, which was also a challenge. But through it all, Stamey says she never lost sight of her goal or lowered her standards for herself as a student. “When it came to my schoolwork, I wanted to do the best that I possibly could…I wanted to earn the highest grades possible and some years were harder than others,” she said. “There were times when I knew I couldn’t be the student I wanted to be while also being a mom so I had to take some time off.”

Stamey took time off as needed but continued as a part-time student earning credits little by little toward her degree. And even while working full time, the now single mom continued to earn excellent grades in her courses and also served on the Early Childhood Education Program’s advisory board as a student representative. She also earned membership in the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society for her academic achievements.

In 2016, with solid progress made toward her Associate degree and with her wealth of experience, Stamey decided that it was time to open her own childcare center. Forever Young Child Development Center officially opened on Aug 29, 2016. On the heels of her success with the new child development center, Stamey remarried and in 2019 had another son.

At this point in Stamey’s story, more than a decade had passed since she started her education at CCC&TI. But the business owner and mom of two never lost her drive or resolve to earn her credentials and she forged ahead toward her goal.

Stamey said that in those last few semesters, balancing her responsibilities as a student, mom, wife, and business owner required dedication and a strict schedule. She says she also had the support of CCC&TI faculty members who encouraged her every step of the way. That support made a huge impact for her. “Mrs. White was my biggest cheerleader at CCC&TI. She was the first person I met when I started back in 2007 and not one time did she doubt my ability to overcome my obstacles and achieve my goals,” she said. “I developed so many great relationships with the instructors that I had at CCC&TI and I will forever be grateful for that.”

CCC&TI Early Childhood Education Director Mandy White said that Stamey’s enthusiasm and passionate approach to the childcare field set her apart as a student. “It was so rewarding to see a student use what they learn and apply it in the real world,” said White. “With each project, she strived to make a positive difference in her childcare center in the community and that is just what Candy did. And despite having to deal with several life-changing events while working toward her degree, she never gave up,” said White.

After 15 semesters and 14 years, Stamey reached her goal and graduated with honors from CCC&TI with her Associate Degree in Applied Science – Early Childhood Education. She achieved a cumulative 3.75 grade point average in her courses, earned a total of five certificates in childcare specialty areas and received the 2021 Early Childhood Education Outstanding Student Award.

White said that being there to watch Stamey receive her degree during the graduation celebration was a special moment for everyone. “It was so exciting to watch Candy during the graduation celebration this spring. To see her reach the goal she set for herself so many years ago was truly inspiring. Her perseverance is a testament to all.”

Stamey hopes that her unique story will serve to inspire anyone else who might think their circumstances would keep them from being successful. “To anyone considering enrolling at CCC&TI or interested in what the college has to offer, my advice to them is ‘do it,’ no matter the circumstances, no matter how old you are, no matter how many kids you have, no matter what your grades were in high school, no matter what your homelife is like – just do it,” she said. “Never second-guess yourself because if it is something you truly want, you can make it happen no matter what.”

Candy Stamey at Graduation