PGCC Student on the Road to Success

Article by: Artelia Gillam,

LARGO, Md. – Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) student Adam Alston didn’t allow the mistake he made as a teenager to prevent his moving forward to achieve his educational goals.

Alston, a returning student from District Heights, Md., made the decision to attend college after being released from prison in February 2012.  Alston doesn’t like to disclose why he went to prison, only that it happened and now he is moving on with his life.

“I had to piece my life back together because statistically I had a 67 percent chance of recidivism if I did not put myself in a positive situation,” Alston said. “I told myself that if I made it out [of prison] I would go back to school.”

And go back he did.  Alston arrived on PGCC’s Largo campus with a passion for engineering.  His inspiration for pursing the field came from his love of a childhood toy, the Super Soaker, which was invented by famed black engineer, Lonnie Johnson.

But Johnson isn’t Alston’s only motivation for success. His mother has been guiding his road back to success since his release.  “My mother has been the foundation to help me overcome my past and to press hard for the future,” Alston shared. “She has been an integral part of my success because of what she achieved.”

Alston’s mother grew up on the south side of Chicago and raised three children alone.  Despite her humble beginnings, she went on to achieve an impeccable military career and graduated from college.  She is the first in Alston’s immediate family to do so, and he intends to be the family’s next college graduate.

Alston credits the Diverse Male Student Initiative, or DMSI, with providing him the inside track to success. “DMSI not only provided me with the tools to become a professional man, but it also helped to connect me with people who are traveling a similar path in life,” Alston said. “I really appreciate the existence of an organization tailored specifically to a demographic that society says cannot excel at a higher level.”

In addition to DMSI, Alston also sees Envision Success, the college’s institutional priority and completion agenda, as another building block to his achievement.

“Envision Success to me is seeing [your] success long before you take the first step toward it,” he said. “It all begins with a thought.” Alston has been taking a full course load and currently holds a 3.2 GPA, but hopes to improve that to a 3.5 during the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year.

In light of his focus on continued self-improvement, Alston has shared his story with young people across the area and volunteers a few times a week at Adam House in Suitland, Md., which assists both male and female ex-offenders in transitioning back into their community. 

For all of the success that Alston has achieved thus far, he realizes that he still has much to accomplish.

“I learned that the first step to success is preparation and so I’m taking those steps in order to meet those challenges,” he said. “My advice to others coming after me would be to never quit and to accept the challenge and struggle that comes with it because if it was easy then you wouldn’t appreciate it.”

Prince George’s Community College is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Two-year Education (CAE2Y) designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for the years 2010 to 2015. Established in 1958, Prince George’s Community College provides transfer and career programs that help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities and prepare them for the workforce. Each year, 40,000 students take part in more than 200 academic programs and workforce development and continuing education courses. Located in Largo, Maryland, Prince George’s Community College has additional sites at Joint Base Andrews, University Town Center in Hyattsville, Laurel College Center, Skilled Trades Center in Camp Springs, and Westphalia Training Center in Upper Marlboro. For more information, visit the college website at

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