By TOM WOERNER
Of The Record Staff
Students at Harnett Early College heard a message of motivation from one of the state’s leading officials Monday afternoon.
North Carolina Secretary of Revenue Ron Penny spoke to the students. The first-year program allows students to complete their high school work and obtain an associate’s degree during the same period of time. Monday’s event was held in the school cafeteria. The school is the former Harnett Training School on Johnson Street in Dunn which has been used for several schools in its history. The Dunn Police Athletic facility also used the building as do the Dunn Senior Center as well as Central Carolina Community College. A portion of the school is also senior apartments.
Mr. Penny outlined his personal history about he had risen to his position in the cabinet of Gov. Roy Cooper. He reminded students gathered about the importance of gaining knowledge.
“If you learn more, you are keeping your options open,” Mr. Penny said. “You have to continue learning because you never know where you are going.”
He also stressed the importance of establishing relationships with people.
“You have to develop a social network that will help you through the rest of your life,” Mr. Penny said. “You never know when people you have met along the way are going to help you.”
He also encouraged students to think about big plans for their future.
“You need to dream about things your parents couldn’t even imagine,” Mr. Penny said. “Walk out on the ledge and do lofty things.”
Mr. Penny was an attorney before getting into state government. He served as acting secretary of revenue before being named to the permanent position. He also worked in the Department of Public Administration at North Carolina Central University and was the state personnel director for eight years.
He is a graduate of both North Carolina A& T University in Greensboro and the University of North Carolina Law School.
According to Harnett County Schools Public Information Officer Natalie Ferrell, the visit to the early college was arranged through state Sen. Ronald Rabin’s office.
The event was held as part of American Education Week.
Sen. Rabin was on hand and also answered questions from students.
He reminded students of the importance of remembering the experiences of life.
“You have to learn from every experience in life so your decisions the next time are better,” Sen. Rabin. “You also have to learn as you go through life that you are now always going to get things your way.”
Students said they enjoyed the experience of hearing the two state leaders talk.
“I liked it,” Jasmine Roberson said. “It was really inspiring.”
“This was really helpful to me,” Juan Balerio Jr., a junior, said. “They were both really helpful. I like the way they were honest with us.”
Several students at the school had questions for the two state leaders. They ranged from questions about Mr. Penny’s job to detailed questions directed to Sen. Rabin about state budgetary procedures.