THE THIRD DEGREE
Adam Alston obtained three ECU degrees, all while working full time
Adam Alston is on a quest for knowledge. That quest led him to East Carolina University where he decided he would obtain not one, and not even two, but three degrees — all while working a full-time job.
Alston will be on the field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for commencement on Friday as a 2021 graduate with degrees in history, African American studies and religious studies.
“I have always been in love with history and the Black diaspora, and religious studies because of my love to learn about different religions,” Alston said.
Alston works as a correctional sergeant in the Eastern Correctional Institution in Maury where he monitors offenders and supervises staff. The 30-year-old hungered for higher education and decided ECU was his best option.
“My sister is an alumna, and it’s close to home,” he said. “Being a non-traditional student with a full-time career, close to home was important.”
Alston admits that juggling career and classes wasn’t always easy.
“To be frank, it has been tough,” he said. “However, a strong support system made things a little easier. I want to thank my fiancée Alexis for the motivation she gave me when I thought I was at my breaking point, my mom Linda Alston and my second mom, Mrs. Kim Miller, for the love and support, my sister Toya, who paved the way, and also the rest of my brothers and sisters who were always there when I needed them.”
He said all of that support and the accomplishment of obtaining three degrees while working full time have taught him a valuable life lesson.
“I am stronger than I could have ever imagined,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic had one major effect on his education. Alston had been scheduled for a six-week study abroad excursion to Granda, Spain, fully paid through scholarships, but that experience was canceled.
“The plan was to finish my Spanish requirements as well as an independent study for religious studies,” he said. “It was disappointing not to go simply because of the experience I could have had along with all the hard work put in for the scholarship essays.”
He plans to celebrate commencement with “a COVID-friendly kickback with close family and friends.” As for what’s next after commencement, Alston is uncertain.
“I am in the deciding process if I want to further my education or a career change,” he said. “Whichever one I choose, I know ECU has prepared me to succeed.”
Name: Adam Alston
College: Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Major: African American studies, history, religious studies
Hometown: Chapel Hill
Hobbies/interests: Traveling, fishing, coaching basketball
Scholarships and awards: Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship; The Thomas W. Rivers Foreign Exchange Scholarship; African American, Latinx, Asian and Native American (A.L.A.N.A.) scholar
Favorite hangout: Home, I am a homebody
Favorite place on campus: Main Campus Student Center
Favorite place to eat: Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, Durham
Favorite class: Introduction to African American Studies
Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Lee Jonson and Dr. Kennetta Perry
Favorite TV show: “Sons of Anarchy”
Favorite band/musician: Usher
Favorite movie: “The Preacher’s Wife”
Dream job: Anything working in diversity, equity and inclusion
Role model: My mom
Your words to live by: Life is short, so do the thing and say the words you’ve been meaning to say.
What advice do you have for other students? You have everything you need to succeed already within yourself but at the same time we need community and support to thrive. You can’t do it alone, so don’t try!
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? I wish the student center was built my freshman year.