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Germanna student Robert Lewis: Turning fear of failure into fuel powering him toward success

Germanna student Robert Lewis of Spotsylvania

Robert Lewis says he’s been around “a lot of knuckleheads getting into trouble.”

But the man known to friends as Rob Lew wanted to make a difference, and he realized that to do that, he’d need to go to college, so he got a federal grant and enrolled at Germanna Community College last fall.

   “It’s a blessing to me to be able to be here and be able to get my education and I’m going to try to make the best of it,” the 26-year-old Chancellor High School graduate says.
      He recently attended a student leadership conference in Roanoke, where he was encouraged to reach out to faculty members.
  “I’ve begun to build relationships with my instructors,” Robert said. “I’ve spoken to students at four-year colleges and lot say it’s difficult to do that. Community college students really have an advantage with their professors. They want the best for you. Talk with them, because they’ll really support you.”
   At the conference, Robert heard a speaker talk about facing one’s fears.
     “Whatever it is holding you back, just face it,” he says he was told.
    “The fear varies from person to person.”
    What’s his biggest fear?
   “I guess I fear failure,” he said. “I’d hate to invest so much time and energy in my education and not come out above average. I want to excel.”
    Students were encouraged to become more involved. He has.
     Last week he was part of a student delegation from Germanna lobby legislators to keep higher education affordable and accessible on Every Day is Community College Day at the General Assembly.

Robert Lewis, at left, with Germanna student delegation that lobbied the General Assembly last week to maintain the affordability of Germanna’s community colleges

     Robert has also gotten involved as president of the Germanna Poetry Club.
     ”One of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of students are going through the motions,” he said. “They don’t take the time to become involved and engaged. If you slow down and keep your eyes and ears open a lot of doors will open for you, a lot of opportunities for really great things. Too many people pass those opportunities by.”
    He says his vision for the poetry club “is to create an atmosphere where students can come and express themselves. I want them to be able to network so they can collaborate. Music and poetry provide the opportunity for them to come and express themselves and build themselves up and share their gifts. Combining music and poetry has been a great way of dealing with things, with stress–a good way to release your feelings.”
   When he started at Germanna last fall he was planning to go into psychology. He’s had a change of heart. Now he wants some kind of career in communications, he says. He plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University.
   “Psychology is helping one person at a time. In communications, I can take what I’ve learned in psychology, public service and community service and apply it. I’m not sure what I want to do, but I want to help people on a big scale.”
     He already volunteers with the Red Cross and RCASA. He’s a mentor and a Big Brother.

Germanna President David A. Sam during General Assembly visit with students Theo Felder and Robert Lewis.

     Robert said Germanna psychology Prof. Gayle Wolfe has made a difference in his life and those of other students.
    “She’s really paved the way for people to become successful,” he said. “She’s great.”