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Chancellor Hears from Drake State Students


On a recent visit to the Drake State campus, Dr. Freida Hill, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, heard from Lesley Ann Eng and Richard Newton about their college experience and future goals.

The two students shared how they arrived at the college and the impact that choice has made on their lives. Dr. Hill is passionate about student success, believing that getting an education is the most important thing people can do to improve their lives and those of their families. “Their success is essential for the vitality of the state,” she says.

“I was driving a bulldozer, when I got laid off,” shares Richard Newton. “I decided that construction was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That’s when I moved from Mobile to Huntsville and ended up enrolling at Drake State,” continues Newton.

Just over a year ago, he was selected to participate in the Adult Summer Bridge Program at Drake State. The program is supported by The National Science Foundation with a goal of exposing participants to the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math to stimulate interest in these career fields. Newton admits that he was surprised during the program to find that he actually loved the challenge of math. While he never considered himself good at math, he loved the challenge it brought. Completion of the Summer Bridge Program made him realize that a college education might be possible for him. Now Newton is a role model for other students and a tutor in the math department. He says that he is so appreciative of the opportunities he has been given while at Drake State. Newton is not shy about expressing his gratitude to the faculty and staff who have provided him so much support and encouragement during his time at the college. Upon completion of his Associates Degree in Industrial Electronics, Newton plans to attain a bachelor’s degree.

Newton shared the microphone with Lesley Ann Eng a second year student in the Office Systems Program. Eng began by telling her very passionate personal story of being a young mother with a five year old child. She has overcome many personal challenges in her very young life but she remains steadfast and devoted to getting her education.

“I realized that I had no option but to get an education if I ever wanted to support my child,” says Eng. “My instructors and the staff here have encouraged me and provided me with the self confidence to do things I never thought possible,” adds Eng.

Eng is making the most of her college experience by getting involved with campus organizations which provide opportunities for professional enrichment and leadership training. Though Eng spent the summer as an intern on Redstone Arsenal, she says “I can’t wait until the semester starts so that I can be on campus every day and be involved in campus activities.

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