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By Josh Bowman, CFCC Foundation Intern

David and Genie Earp have been part of the Cape Fear family since they first met on campus in in 1982. David, a student in the marine technology program, first saw Genie, a chemical technology student, in the cafeteria. “She was having lunch, and I was starving,” he recalls.

David also recalls with great fondness the unique opportunities he enjoyed in the CFCC marine tech program, such as multiple cruises on the R/V Cape Hatteras, which was operated by the Duke/University of North Carolina Oceanographic Consortium, and took CFCC students to Bermuda. David was also a member of CFCC’s first-ever golf team, which was coached by Rick Stewart who is still the coach today.

The classes David and Genie took at CFCC helped them find employment directly after college. David became employed with Teledyne Oil Exploration in 1984 as a technician on a seismograph boat. Genie found employment as a water and coal analyst at Duke Power’s coal power plant.  

So it was not a surprise when years later, the Earps encouraged their daughter Rachel to attend CFCC just as they did, when she was recruited by CFCC Womens’ Soccer Coach Chris Libert in fall 2006. Rachel and her teammates won the NJCAA Region X tournament two years in a row, and the entire Earp family was usually there to cheer her on at every game.  Rachel went on to UNCW, majoring in biology and chemistry.

A couple of years later, oldest daughter Saralynn also joined the student body, and CFCC officially became a family affair. “Cape Fear was a great choice for Saralynn,” said David. She concentrated in fine art classes and had the opportunity to submit art pieces for various exhibits at the Cameron Art Museum. Saralynn has since transferred to UNCW and is completing a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

As CFCC graduates both Saralyn and Rachel have specific reasons why they feel connected to the college. Saralyn stressed that what made a difference to her was the way advisors and the instructors at CFCC were willing go out of their way to help their students. Rachel also experienced this first hand at CFCC when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and underwent surgery during the school year. The hospitalizations kept Rachel from attending class for weeks and could have led to her being forced to repeat the semester. It was only through help from the administrators, support from her soccer team, support from her family and personal perseverance that she managed to take special class sessions and finish the semester out strong. “Coach Libert and her teammates were there for her when her family couldn’t be,” says her dad. Rachel concurs: “I’ve made lifelong friends here” she says, and she returns every year to play on the alumni soccer team with some of those friends.

Since then the Earps have remained avid Sea Devil athletic fans. There is rarely a soccer or basketball game that a member of the Earp family isn’t cheering from the sidelines. Even Mr. Earp, who suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury in a tragic boating accident ten years ago, has managed to attend multiple games with the family.

When asked to describe how the college has changed since 1984, David comments with a chuckle that “back then there weren’t so many buildings.” It is true that the facilities and staff have grown over the years, but according to both of his daughters the intimate atmosphere and caring staff are two things that haven’t changed one bit.

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