Camp’s ’23 Commencement speaker to students: ‘Go For It!’

Charlotte Balek has navigated a self-described rocky road to become a registered nurse. Selected as the student speaker at Camp Community College’s 52nd annual Commencement in May, Balek told the Camp graduates to go after what it is they want in life.

A CCC news release noted that Balek, now a resident of Southampton County, is an immigrant from Germany. In that country, she was a registered nurse, but when she came to the U.S., she learned that she would have to start from scratch.

“As a new immigrant to this country, I had to take on new life changes, starting all over again, with English as my second language,” she said. “The education I received in Germany, and the nursing license, did not transfer. Suddenly, everything I had worked so hard for meant nothing.”

Her main goal was to become a registered nurse again. 

“It was my biggest dream to work as a registered nurse again — a career that I always considered my calling,” she said. “My heart is nursing, and I work it with the fullest compassion. So, I stepped forward and applied to college.”

After many unsuccessful attempts trying to be accepted into a nursing program, she applied to the Practical Nursing program at Camp Community College and was accepted. She completed that program and then was accepted into the Registered Nursing transition program. 

She was on her way. 

She thanked the Camp faculty and staff for assisting her along the way. 

“I want to thank all of the faculty and staff at Camp who helped me reach this dream,” she said. “Without your support, my desire to become a nurse in America would not have happened.”

She thanked two faculty members in particular — Mary Ellen Gleason and Ronette Jacobs — who taught her English.

“The college English classes I took gave me a solid foundation to build on in order to complete my education,” Balek said. “I would have not come this far without learning the proper English language. Speaking and writing English were the most essential pieces that I needed to integrate myself into this country and to become successful.”

She gave the following advice to the graduating students and also those in the audience:

“To all the people in this room, to my fellow peers, and the graduates of 2023: Never give up! Go after the things you want to accomplish in life! Set your goals, and work hard! Consistency and discipline are the keys to success. I want you to go out there and take your chances!”