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"I really like the hands-on training that Wake Tech provides. ... The college helped me decide on a career."
Thirty-seven-year-old Jermel Lilly will tell you that second chances are important – and can have happy endings.
In 2007, after graduating from high school in Fayetteville, Lilly moved to Garner and enrolled in a few classes at Wake Tech. He says he wasn't particularly motivated to study and left school to focus on working. After almost a decade as a waiter, he wanted more and decided to give college another try.
Lilly was interested in law enforcement and began taking classes in the Criminal Justice Technology program at Wake Tech's Public Safety Education Campus. He focused on Forensic Science, where students learn both theory and hands-on analysis of latent evidence, along with how to process a crime scene.
"I really like the hands-on training that Wake Tech provides – learning how to collect evidence, analyze blood and fingerprints. It is exactly what I want to do. The college helped me decide on a career."
With his new goal, motivation was no longer a problem, and, for the next few years, he balanced work and school with great success. The Wake Tech library, he found, offered a much-needed place to study and complete homework. In 2023, Lilly walked across the stage to receive an Associate in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice Technology – Forensic Science, with big plans for the future.
This fall, Lilly will attend William Peace University to pursue a bachelor's degree, and he has plans to complete a master's degree as well. He hopes to one day become a crime scene technician. "I'm fascinated by whodunit cases," he says. "I want to gather evidence and solve crimes."
Lilly says it is easy to build a case for Wake Tech, even the second time around.
"The instructors were extremely helpful when I had questions about the material, and my advisor gave me suggestions to cope with the stress of juggling work and school."
He urges future Eagles to give Wake Tech a chance – or two – like he did. "Stay determined and resilient, and never give up on your dreams!"
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