Gov. Cooper pushing to make N.C. top 10 in education

"I talk with CEOs a lot," Gov. Roy Cooper said. "The jobs are there. We just need to make sure that the workforce is prepared and educated." (Greg Payne, NewsChannel 12 photo)

Gov. Roy Cooper visited Pitt Community College Tuesday and made known his goal for making our state one that is in the top 10 nationally in education by 2025.

All throughout Cooper's tour through the campus and during a round-table discussion, he could not stress enough how the state has to continue to make education a priority. Meanwhile, many of the students in attendance were just in awe of the fact the governor cared so much about them.

"Felt nice to have him here," said Cameron Peaden, a student at PCC. "It kind of felt for me that he really cared about us. He was asking me and Hanna especially where we were from what we were going to do, major in, what we wanted to do in our normal careers.

"I especially liked that aspect of it getting to know me and I got to know more about where he was from his background so I got to bond with him a little throughout the tour."

Cooper said the goal he is pushing is obtainable along with free and affordable education.

"I talk with CEOs a lot," Cooper said. "The jobs are there. We just need to make sure that the workforce is prepared and educated."

Those words spoke volumes to Bernard Vereen Jr., a recent PCC graduate. He remembers his struggle as a student.

"When I had graduated from high school, I had a rough idea of 'yes I want to be successful, I want to be able to support a family but I didn't necessarily know how to achieve that goal," Vereen said.

He said through hard work and the college's help, he was able to establish a goal and achieve it. It's a message he wanted to make sure the governor realized.

"Community colleges work," Vereen said. "A lot of community colleges and the system itself has a stigma behind it and that's far beyond the truth."

Cooper said he is seeing the work places like PCC is doing to help students achieve those goals.

"We see PCC working closely with the health care community, with our high schools, with (East Carolina University) we are all in this together and it's important for us to work in a coordinated way to get our workforce ready," Cooper said.

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