Reggie Dawkins’ high school transcript tells the story of a successful student with a promising future.
Starting with his award as “Rookie of the Year” for marching band, his career at South Point High School includes honors like Captain of the Color Guard, All-District Band, a 3.75 GPA, and a spot on the 2016 Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps, a highly competitive national touring group.
Dawkins was recently selected to receive the 2016 Paul Fuller Scholarship. He will use it at Western Carolina University, where he plans to study instrumental music education.
It might look like one more thing to add to his list of achievements, but the transcript doesn’t tell the whole story. As Dawkins wrote in his scholarship application essay, the future didn’t always look so bright.
Dawkins described how he experienced bullying in school, starting in fourth grade.
At Belmont Middle School, he recalled, “I was made fun of for many small things like my glasses, clothes, and the reason that I took my education seriously. That was a very rough time for me.”
His mother had moved to the area for a new job, and she was working hard to pay the bills while raising twins.
“I didn’t have it that easy like the other privileged kids did,” Dawkins said. “I began to lose faith and misunderstood my purpose.”
One day in sixth grade, the school counselor called Dawkins to the office and told him he was getting a mentor. Looking back, Dawkins says, that was the day things began to change.
“I don’t know where I would have been if he hadn’t come into my life,” Dawkins said of his mentor, Van Hawkins, who began meeting with him once a week at Belmont Middle. He helped Dawkins find his purpose again.
“Van Hawkins inspired me to do my best,” Dawkins wrote. “He came to my band concerts, games, spent time with me during school much like a father figure, and even mailed me a birthday card and gift every year.”
For Hawkins, his time as a mentor was a matter of showing up and doing the best he could to encourage a young student. “I didn’t know what to expect,” he said, recalling that he asked himself: “Will this make a difference?” Hawkins said he watched his mentee mature through middle school.
“He was the youngest in his class, but he just grew so much physically, mentally, emotionally. By the time he was finished with eighth grade he felt like he had control of his life,” he said.
Their mentoring relationship ended as Dawkins moved on to high school. Although he missed having a mentor, Dawkins said, their time together set the foundation for his success at South Point.
“Thank you for inspiring me to do the best I can,” he told Hawkins at the Paul Fuller Scholarship presentation.
For Hawkins, it was a chance to finally get the answer to that question from seven years ago: am I making a difference? “I’m so happy,” Hawkins said. “He had so much potential, and he’s showing that now.” That investment in one student will pay dividends in many other lives, Dawkins said.
“Van Hawkins was an example for me and I believe through his leadership that inspired me I am now an example for my generation. My mentor has truly made a huge impact on my life forever,” he said. “I would not be half the man I am today if it wasn’t for him.”
The Paul Fuller Scholarship is awarded annually to one graduate of Gaston County Schools who has been a participant in the GCS mentoring program. The $1,000 scholarship is renewable for four years.