While enlisted in the United States Army, Dallas Lockley took his first college-credit course. He always knew he wanted to attend college, but lacked self-confidence and motivation to further pursue his education. With a little push from his comrades in the Army, in 2014 he decided to attend NOVA. After graduating in May with a degree in general studies, the NOVA alum has now returned to the Woodbridge Campus to earn a second associate degree, this time in social science.
“Fear of failure was my biggest obstacle, so I would constantly put off going to school,” Lockley said. “I chose NOVA because of the great things I had heard about the College from other soldiers who attended. I remember one of my very first NOVA courses was history. I enjoyed it so much that it gave me the boost I needed to keep going and enroll in other classes. I found college to be fun and interesting.”
Growing up in Atlanta, Ga., Lockley described his neighborhood as indigent with few opportunities for professional growth. At 14, Lockley started working several odd jobs to help support his disabled mother and younger siblings. Worrying more about the well-being of his family, instead of his education became a recurring pattern throughout his childhood. It wasn’t until he attended Fort Stewart Youth Challenge Academy, a military model program established by the National Guard in 1993 to reclaim the lives of at-risk youth, that he discovered his full potential and as he described it, “a way out.”
“Although I grew up in a bad neighborhood, I never believed in people taking advantage of others for their own personal gain,” Lockley said. “I really worried more about my family than anything else, including myself. After I graduated in 2004 from Youth Challenge Academy, I joined the Georgia National Guard and later served and worked as an infantryman at Fort Myer U.S. Army Base for eight years. I’ve been all over the world and have experienced a lot.”
After his military career, Lockley worked for a year as a contractor for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As a current NOVA student, he is involved with the Woodbridge-MAN UP program and as an employee with NOVA-Woodbridge Office of Military and Veteran Services through the College’s Work-Study Program.
“The biggest reason why I wanted a college degree is not to get a job. I’m doing this for myself,” Lockley said. “Having a degree doesn’t mean that you’re smart, and not having a degree doesn’t mean you’re less than smart. It just takes commitment. Based on my own personal experiences, I can now tell people to not be afraid to step out and go for what you want in life. The road to success is always under construction.”
Upon graduating from NOVA in Dec. 2017, Lockley plans to transfer to George Mason University to pursue a bachelor degree in criminal justice with a minor in aviation. His ultimate goal is to work in law enforcement to become a local police officer or join a federal agency.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.