Harris launched multiple careers at LCC
Preston L. Harris of Kinston was a student at Lenoir Community College in two different decades. His first stint at LCC began immediately after graduating from Adkin High School (in the top ten of his class) in 1970.
"I attended LCC from 1970-72 straight out of high school," Harris said. "I enrolled in the radio/television broadcasting program. During my high school years, I was the master of ceremonies at many events, and I was encouraged to go into broadcasting by my teachers. They said I had the gift of gab and needed to be on the radio."
Harris said the LCC campus of 1970 was vastly different from the 2018 edition.
"There were many Vietnam veterans on campus due to the G.I. Bill," he said. "I also remember there being only two main buildings on campus. There are an array of buildings and facilities at LCC now, but at that time they did not have a gym. They had a basketball team but the games had to be played in the gyms at either South Lenoir or Woodington."
Harris also noted that in 1970 semesters did not exist at LCC.
"There were three quarters per school year," Harris said. "Tuition was about $31 per quarter. When I started, I borrowed $50 and that covered tuition and books with money left over. At the time you could get 3 gallons of gas for $1, and go to McDonald's and buy a hamburger, fries and a big Coke and get change back from a dollar."
Harris said that initial $50 loan carried him through his first quarter, and afterwards he was able to find grants and scholarships due to his good grades.
"During my second year in the LCC broadcasting program, WISP called and said they needed an on-air radio person, so I was recruited out of college," Harris said. "I worked in radio in Kinston for a number of years. I worked several other jobs before re-enrolling in LCC in the 1980s."
Harris said he returned to LCC to take advantage of their college transfer program.
"I returned to LCC in 1987 and in 1989 had acquired my associate's degree education, which I then transferred to East Carolina University," Harris said.
Harris went on to graduate from ECU in 1991 with a degree in education.
"After acquiring my teaching certificate, I went to work in the Lenoir County Public School system," Harris said. "During this period I also went back to ECU to acquire my master's degree in education and administration."
Harris retired from the Lenoir County Public Schools in 2016. He is currently a Lenoir County commissioner and has been a pastor and church administrator for more than three decades.
"I've been a pastor at J.T. Kerr Memorial Baptist Church in Jacksonville for 31 years," Harris said. "Thirty-one years ago, my pastor in Kinston was from Jacksonville. At the time, I was the associate minister in Kinston for the youth, and a church in Jacksonville was in need of a new pastor, and he recommended me. I'm also the spiritual leader over 23 Missionary Baptist churches in Jones, Craven and Onslow counties."
Harris also reflected on how the culture of broadcasting -- specifically, radio -- has changed over the ensuing decades.
"The training I received for radio at LCC helped me develop skills I use to this day as a public speaker," Harris said. "We were required to take classes for enunciation and develop a strong vocabulary. We had to study places of the world, so when we gave newscasts about those places we would know something about them. We also had to be licensed to be on the radio, which is not required now.
"On-air personalities aren't required to have any diction or enunciation now either; they can grab someone off the street and just put them on the radio."
Harris said he was the first person in his family to go to college.
"I had a good experience at LCC because I was focused on getting an education and getting a job," Harris said. "Most any career anyone wants to pursue can be launched at Lenoir Community College. Whether you plan on going into a technical field or a college transfer program, it can be done locally and economically."
For more information on how you can help a student obtain an education, contact Jeanne Kennedy at 252-233-6812.