“Don’t Let Anybody Tell You What You Can’t Do.”

Douglas Richburg

Douglas Richburg, GED, Associate Degree Student

Overcoming Challenges

Douglas Richburg never thought that he would go to college. In fact, he was discouraged from even trying. “I never had a strong support system and people in other educational settings told me that I would never amount to anything in life,” he recalls. “One person in a high position, someone that I would expect to get support from, even told other educators to let me leave the school system because I would never be anybody anyway.” Yet now Douglas is a student in Forsyth Tech’s Business Administration curriculum program, and is on track to receive his associate degree in spring 2017.

Getting there hasn’t been easy. Due to academic challenges, Douglas struggled with his studies and didn’t finish high school. But he knew that without further education he would be severely limited in what he could achieve, so he decided to get his GED at Forsyth Tech. He didn’t have his own transportation, so he walked or rode the city bus to campus every day. He attended the GED class and practice lab for at least eight hours a day, and was often in the lab until it closed. He had major struggles with math, but was determined to accomplish his goal. Ultimately he persevered and got his GED in three years.

Determination to Succeed

While other academic institutions let him slip through the cracks, at Forsyth Tech Douglas found the support he needed to succeed. He cites the tutors who worked with him, saying they were very patient and compassionate, never hesitating to answer any question that he asked. He talks about staff members who encouraged him not to give up. Michael Harris, Dean of the college’s Adult Literacy program, was especially encouraging and displayed confidence in him, he says. “He saw my potential to succeed and my leadership qualities.”

What makes Douglas’s story even more remarkable is the volunteer work he does in addition to his academic work. He has volunteered to help feed the homeless, load and unload delivery trucks for the Food Bank, and visit nursing homes to bring joy to individuals who are not visited by their own families. In 2016 his work in the community earned him the Martin Luther King, Jr. Young Dreamers’ Award, which is given by the City of Winston-Salem to recognize an “outstanding emerging or proven young adult leader who…has produced a meaningful result in community inclusiveness and race relations.” In giving him the award, the City said that Douglas “embodies the ideals of MLK through his compassion and generosity, has proven his determination to succeed, and encourages others to reach their goals.”

Big Dreams

Douglas has big dreams. He already has a job, and has been able to buy transportation to travel to school and work. After getting his degree at Forsyth Tech, his goal is to transfer to a four-year college and get his Bachelor’s in Business Administration. His ultimate career goal is to be a global entrepreneur and own several businesses. And he says Forsyth Tech is a big reason he has those dreams. “I am thankful that I am living out my dream to learn and achieve my goals,” he says. “I am so appreciative for the support that I continue to receive from Forsyth Tech and others in my life. I would tell anyone who needs encouragement to always follow your dreams and don’t give up no matter what your challenges are; don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do.”