From a Love for Rollercoasters to a Passion for Mechanical Engineering
Jon Siemon, 18, holds acceptance letters from North Carolina State University, College of Engineering; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Texas at Austin, Cockrell School of Engineering and Jefferson Scholars Program. Siemon also sits on the waitlist for Harvard University.
From a young age, Siemon’s eyes were set on becoming a mechanical engineer.
“My love of roller coasters began when I was six years old when I rode “The Barnstormer” at Disney World,” said Siemon. “From the first time I rode one with my grandfather, I was obsessed. The adrenaline rush made me even more fascinated with science and engineering than I ever thought was possible. Since then, I have traveled the country and visited theme parks from all over. These experiences are part of a decade-long quest to pursue my education to eventually become a mechanical engineer, so I can design and construct theme-park attractions.”
While Siemon was certain of his career path, the road he’d take to get there wasn’t always as concrete. After taking one class in the fall of 2019 at Cape Fear Community College as a high school student, he was impressed by the flexibility it offered him. Then he realized he could complete his high school diploma alongside his associate degree, graduate early, get a college experience, and stay on track to be admitted to his dream schools.
“When I realized I could actually graduate with an associate’s degree, instantly I was like, sign me up. I’m fully in! And I knew Cape Fear would be interactive and would offer me a chance to really get a feel for what college is like at a four-year university.”
Another deciding factor for Siemon was student life. With the pandemic’s mass shift to online learning environments and virtual events, he knew he wanted a little extra for his senior year.
“I was looking for more involvement. I really wanted to contribute more, and I knew that high school — even though we’ve done some things, wasn’t going to be a full experience. I really wanted to fill the gaps and find a new area where I could explore my future.”
Then Siemon stumbled on Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society that recognizes students for their academic achievements and leadership potential at the two-year college level. He reached out to the advisor.
“She told me everything about what was possible for this semester and how I can get involved at CFCC, contribute to community service, and get involved with student politics. She introduced me to the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Honors Program. And I think it was from this that I made friends with all of the people in SGA, especially the officers.”
As an AP scholar, the Secretary of the CFCC Student Government Association, and the Secretary and Student Liaison of the Diversity and Global Awareness Committee, Siemon maintained a 4.0 unweighted GPA for his entire academic career. Moreover, Siemon was a partner school nominee for the Robertson scholarship program by Topsail High School and the recipient of the Phi Theta Kappa Joan Keller Scholarship Award.
“The resources at CFCC really prepared me for the future. It’s given me an advantage because I get to be more independent and resourceful and plan my schedule, register for my own classes, and rely on connections to help me move forward. It’s prepared me for college life before I even began.”
Siemon is slated to graduate with honors in May 2021 with his Associate in Science degree and his high school diploma.
“Jon is voracious in his desire to learn, his drive to succeed, and his willingness to challenge himself each semester,” said Kate Santhuff, Phi Theta Kappa Advisor.
To anyone considering CFCC who fears they’ll miss out on student life, Siemon says, “do your research. There’s this whole other world that you could be missing. You could have the best semester, the best year of your life at CFCC. Look on the website. Look at the clubs and extra activities. Get involved, reach out, and build your connections.”
If you have your eyes set on a four-year school, CFCC can be a high-quality and affordable first step. Learn more about the CFCC’s different transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities at cfcc.edu/advising/university-transfer-guide/ .