When Delvonte’ Austin of Tarboro looks back at his educational journey, he thinks,
“I’ve come a long way.”
Austin graduated cum laude from North Carolina Central University on Dec. 14, with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and a concentration in marketing. Flashback to eight years ago – Austin was beginning high school with “no clear direction” for his future.
“My focus was to have fun, to enjoy and have popularity amongst my other peers,” he said.
Austin’s mindset has changed quite a bit since then. He began aspiring to pursue a higher education and a career his senior year of high school.
“My senior year we had an awards ceremony and I was seeing my classmates that were receiving some awards…Instead of being jealous, I wanted something better for myself,” Austin said.
Austin applied to NC Central in October of his senior year and was not accepted to the university at that time. He applied to NC Central the second time around at College Round-Up, an annual local event.
“A month later, I got an acceptance letter. Once I got that acceptance letter it was a great relief for me,” Austin said.
Austin admitted that he had gotten a little discouraged prior to the acceptance letter, since other schools he had applied to sent him back letters urging him to take summer classes to prepare for his freshman year.
Austin graduated from North Edgecombe High School in 2009 and said he entered college knowing his purpose – to study business, following in the footsteps of his entrepreneurial mother Regina Cherry, owner of Cherry’s Tax Service in Tarboro.
“College is a journey. There are a lot of ups and downs,” Austin said. “I joined organizations to keep me focused.”
Austin first joined NCCU Centennial Scholars Program, an organization with the goal of keeping young male minorities “on track with their education and to graduate within four years.”
“It basically gave me a clear direction,” Austin said. “I had my own personal mentor. It gave me an ‘older brother’ to go to.”
Austin also changed his social scene, seeking out friends with similar goals to help him stay focused on his goals.
At the end of his sophomore year, Austin welcomed his daughter, Carmyn Austin. But rather than getting “off track” with his studies, he became more determined than ever to attain academic success.
“She motivated me a lot to complete the rest of my years at NC Central,” Austin said.
Austin joined other honor societies for academic purposes – Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society and Golden Key International Honour Society.
Other sources of encouragement for Austin were his father. Mack Cherry Sr., and spiritual family – His Majesty’s Children Deliverance Church under the leadership of Bishop Jerry and Pastor Barbara Pittman.
Reflecting on his high school and college experiences, Austin has some words of wisdom for young people starting their academic journey:
“Believe in yourself. Inspire yourself and be confident,” he said. “Through troubled times, there’s always a great success story at the end of the road. Don’t give up. Fight through it.”
Austin’s next goal is to build a record label, True Alliance Entertainment, “from the ground up” with some of his mentors from the Raleigh area. His ultimate objective for the company is to be “one of the biggest independent labels that came from North Carolina” and to sign a major deal with Universal or Warner Brothers. Austin’s musical inspirations are Jay-Z and Sean Combs “P. Diddy.” He also is the manager for a young artist, who goes by the stage name “Ock Cobain,” inspired by Kurt Cobain.
Another goal of Austin’s is to start a non-profit organization locally to mentor young people.
“I want to also do community work, be a role model…for young people who are in my shoes to chase their dreams, as well, because it is possible and they’re not in it alone.”
“I would also like to encourage students in the area to attend College Round-up and to take advantage of the activities that are being held in our local community,” Austin added.