Celebrating Community College Month with Evron Stand and his ESCC storyCategory: Alumni
by William McCarter
By his own admission, Evron Strand is a military brat. He was born in Fayetteville, N.C. and moved to the Eastern Shore in 1985 when he was 11; he attended Arcadia Middle and High School, where he wrestled, played football and ran track. But Evron did not graduate with his classmates because in 1992 he was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison.
He served six of those years.
When Evron was released in 1998, he moved back to the Eastern Shore and tried to find work, but there were few opportunities for a young man with a criminal record, so in 2011 he moved to the Tidewater area and lived there for more than ten years, working mostly in construction. In 2011 he moved back to the Shore and worked in a barbershop and in the poultry industry. That same year he married his wife, Tyneisher. It was then that Evron realized he needed to do something with his life. “Things just weren’t adding up financially. There just wasn’t enough, you know, just at the end of the month.”
He made the life-changing decision to go back to school. And as do so many others on the Eastern Shore, he turned to Eastern Shore Community College.
He’ll be the first to tell you that it was not easy. “Working, taking care of a family and going to school can be a challenge for anyone. It was rough,” he says now, “but I knew I needed to do this.” So in the fall of 2013, he made the big step and signed up for classes at Community College. “At that point,” he says, “everything just sort of came together. I had great professors and my wife and family were so supportive. I already had experience in construction and working at Perdue, so I signed up for the Industrial Maintenance Program. You know, I was a little uncertain; it had been a long time since I’d been in the classroom, but the faculty at the college, they were just great. I felt like they took the time to get to know me and give me the chance to learn the best way for me. They pushed when I needed pushing and somehow they knew when to pull back when I needed maybe time and patience.”
Evron is also quick to point that he had to reach inside himself and find his own measure. “The most important thing,” he says, “for my own success was determination and persistence. It can be too easy to give up and just coast on through life, but I knew I didn’t want that for me or my family, so when I was tired or discouraged I would remind myself of my responsibilities and my dreams, and I would get back to work. I started with 18 courses that I had to take, and now I only have four left. That’s a great feeling, I gotta tell you.” Evron also gives credit to others: his parents, his extended family, community members, even his employer, Perdue Farms.
But maybe the best part of Evron’s story is that, even though he has not finished his classes, he already has a good job in his field. Last year he attended a job fair at the college and met Martha Costin, who works as a recruiter at Perdue. “She was a big help and worked with the college and with me, and now I have this great job, the job I dreamed about. So it’s the best of both worlds; I’m doing the work and learning it hands-on and at the same time I’m in the classroom and learning all the other stuff, the theory and everything, and then I can actually put it to use.”
“These days,” he says, “going back to school is the best option, maybe for most people the only option. But we’re lucky to have this college right here. You know I never thought much about it before; I just rode by this place most of the time and didn’t even think about it being here. But I can tell you now that’s not the case anymore. I am so appreciative and thankful, and when I ride past the college I feel like I’m part of it and it’s part of me.”
“I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish. There are young people around me who know about my past and the mistakes that I made, and they can see that I was able to move beyond that and make my life count for something, you know? Something I can be proud of and my family can be proud of. And what’s amazing is that I can see that my story can sort of inspire others, especially young people. And I can see something in their eyes and it’s an amazing thing.”
“If I can do it, if I can succeed,” Mr. Evron Strand says, “then anyone can, and the community college, man, that’s a great place to start.”