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HENDERSON — Daniel Crudup understood something about the importance of education from a young age.
“Education, to me, has always been a method to escape my current reality,” he said. “For me, school was fun, and it represented something in my life that I could control — well, at least, the outcomes, such as my performance and grades.”
Plus, as the youngest of seven children, he had a chance to see older siblings start their careers straight out of high school, without going to college. Crudup saw them struggle to make ends meet as a result.
“I quickly realized that I did not want that life,” he recalled. “Thanks to my grandparents, who raised me from the age of two when my mother died of breast cancer, I knew that getting all of the education that I could would be my ticket to that different life that I desired.”
Crudup combined that insight with other childhood experiences and put together a career goal.
“Growing up, I was extremely clumsy,” he said. “I was always falling and getting hurt. This resulted in seven broken arms throughout my K-12 years, including both at the same time in second grade. Needless to say, I developed a close relationship with the radiology staff at the local hospital.”
All those interactions with the health care system — and, in particular, all the X-rays — gave young Daniel the inspiration to dream of becoming a radiologist.
With that goal in mind, Crudup enrolled at a university in Virginia. While he did well academically, the out-of-state tuition was so high that it caused him to cut short his higher education journey.
“Feeling defeated, I returned home not knowing what I would do,” he said. “It was several months later that a neighbor told me about the Job Corps program.”
At first, he thought the federal program, which has a center in Kittrell, was only for “troubled” youth, but he learned that was not necessarily the case. Crudup also found out that the center was partnering with Vance-Granville Community College to place participants in career-related programs, one of which was radiography. That, he realized, could put him back on track to his earlier goal.
“Three weeks later, I was enrolled at Kittrell Job Corps Center,” Crudup said. “It was an experience like no other.”
First, he had to complete some prerequisites at the center, including the Certified Nursing Assistant program. He learned patience and developed leadership skills along the way. Eventually, he was able to take courses at VGCC and apply to the radiography program.
“I was overjoyed the day that I learned that I was one of 30 students accepted into the program,” he recalled. “It was perhaps one of the most difficult challenges that I had ever faced. Students in the program were not only gaining book knowledge but hands-on experience as well.”
Crudup added that the program “created an environment in which we became a family and learned to lean on one another and our instructors for support.” He made lifelong friendships and gained a mentor in program head Angela Thomas. He learned how to study differently, to think critically, to be more innovative in solving problems and to deal with stress.
Meanwhile, he received support from scholarships awarded by VGCC, along with a national scholarship just for Job Corps students from the Fluor Foundation. He earned Dean’s List honors and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Crudup graduated from VGCC in 2011 and received the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology Student Award of Excellence, before passing his national registry exam on the first attempt.
He then continued his education. He credits the study skills he gained at VGCC with allowing him to maintain a 4.0 grade point average while he completed a bachelor’s in Healthcare Management at Winston-Salem State University and, later, a master’s in business with a concentration in healthcare at Southern New Hampshire University.
Today, Crudup works in a management position with a Winston-Salem-based organization that serves clients with developmental disabilities, while he completes a Ph.D. program in Public Health through Walden University.
“I owe much of my success today to the wisdom instilled in me by my grandparents as well as their continuous prayers, and to my instructors and fellow classmates at VGCC, who challenged me to be the best that I can be and to keep pushing forward,” he said. “I am forever grateful. To think that I, essentially a college dropout in 2008, will officially become Dr. Daniel Alexander Crudup, Ph.D., in 2021 is truly a testimony of the power of education and believing that anything is possible.”