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Montgomery College student honored as one of eight Achieving the Dream scholars

Carol Faye Walls, 58, who has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in her life, receives a $1,000 scholarship and will present at the annual DREAM conference in Long Beach, CA later this month

Carol Faye Walls grew up economically challenged in Washington, D.C. and has since faced numerous challenges. Yet, she has never lost sight of earning a college degree. Today, she is one of just eight community college students from Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network colleges, including two Tribal colleges, who will participate in ATD’s 2019 DREAM Scholars program to enhance their leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. The program culminates in a presentation by the DREAM Scholars to the 2,300 attendees at ATD’s annual conference, DREAM, in Long Beach, CA February 19-22, 2019.

Carol began her life in a male dominated low-income family of eight in Washington, D.C. Growing up, she was expected by her father to get married, start a family, and maintain the household she created. Her family was focused on the educational and professional success of her brothers, and not of hers, which discouraged her desires for learning and artistic expression. Despite this, she continued to press forward and achieve her educational dreams. She now knows that being an adult learner has always been a part of her, a discovery that she owes to her mother.

“I honor her for being the first woman who cast a bright light in my life, striving toward her cosmetology and nursing careers beginning at age 35,” she says. “Failing the state nursing board examinations four times did not deter her. It was her grit and perseverance that were defining character traits for me.”

Carol refers to herself as an “overcomer,” who, at the age of 44, had a setback due to her previous school losing university accreditation, suffered a battle with uterine cancer, and experienced family loss. Despite these circumstances she was determined to attain her educational goals. In 2015, she began attending Montgomery College. She credits her success to Dr. Carly-Miles, Shinta Hernandez, Dr. Denise Simmons Graves, and Dr. Melissa Scarfone who have each played special roles in her journey. Carol plans to earn academic degrees in Social Work with an emphasis on female domestic violence victims and their children.

In addition, ATD has awarded each DREAM Scholar a $1,000 scholarship, sponsored by the community college honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

“I look forward every year to getting to know our student scholars and spending time with them at DREAM. It reinforces for me that when we choose to spend our careers—our lives—in higher education, we are making a commitment to something tangible, something that will have a lasting effect for years to come,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “As a college president, I found that it was students who motivated me, inspired me, and engaged me the most. I drew from their experiences and struggles and successes to help me shape my focus as a college leader. I am pleased to have that opportunity again with our DREAM scholars.”

DREAM Scholars are nominated by their institutions, submit applications that ask them to reflect on their college journeys, and undergo a rigorous selection process. During DREAM, the students talk with experts, share their educational experiences, and attend sessions on improving student success, institutional governance, teaching and learning, administration, and more. Their individual presentations at the national DREAM convening allows them to share what they have learned about Network colleges’ work to improve their students’ success and completion and close achievement gaps for historically underserved student populations.

The other 2019 DREAM Scholars are:

Ahmat Adam Djouma

Mohawk Valley Community College

New York

Cam Do

Bunker Hill Community College


Ashley Joe

Navajo Technical University

New Mexico

Marc Kahala-Earley

University of Hawai’i – Leeward Community College


Carmelita LaTray

Little Priest Tribal College


Samantha Parrish

Northeast State Community College


Raymond Power

Pierce College


About Montgomery College

Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves nearly 60,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 130 areas of study.

About Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.

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