Student enrolled at WSSU at age 16

Student enrolled at WSSU at age 16
September 04
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  Zephin Rector takes part in the Through the Archway ceremony for freshmen at WSSU.)

Winston-Salem State University welcomed more than 750 freshmen to campus last month. Zephin Rector stood out among them. He’s a minor preparing to major in a difficult and extensive field.

100_0550Rector was just 16 when he joined fellow freshmen – most of whom are at least 18 – for orientation activities. He had a birthday shortly before classes officially began, but still his 17 years of life belie his visage. Rector still very much resembles the round-face boy captured in family photographs from his middle and elementary school years.

“It’s different because I am younger, but it gives me an advantage because when I graduate I will be 20,” Rector said of his relative youth.

Rector is preparing to major in WSSU’s nursing program and is ready to take charge of his future at a time when most students his age are embarking on their senior year of high school.

In May, the Lexington native graduated from Lexington Senior High School, where he played on the football and basketball teams and in the band. He was also an active member of the Males Only Service Club.

Rector, who has joined the championship-winning WSSU football squad, decided fairly recently that he wanted to become a nurse.

“Going into my sophomore year in high school, I went to a nursing camp at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, and I decided that I wanted to do nursing ever since.”

Roy Rector gave the OK for his son to skip first grade. Teachers noticed early that he was precocious and proved it by giving him a battery of tests. They showed that he was far above the standard first-grader. Roy Rector, a single-parent, said he was nervous and hesitant to allow Zephin to skip a grade level.

Zephin poses with his dad, Roy Rector, after his high school graduation.

Zephin poses with his dad, Roy Rector, after his high school graduation.

“At first, I was a bit of a skeptic about them doing it, but I went on and let them because I knew he could do it,” Rector said. “I always had high hopes for him.”

Roy Rector is unabashed about the firm grip he maintains on his son. He grew up without a father and knows the pitfalls into which young black men can plunge.

“I always told him that we have choices in life,” said Roy Rector, who has worked two jobs to support his son. “Some choices you are going to regret and some you will not … There are so many young, black males locked up or strung-out on drugs. I tried to keep him away from that route,” he said. “Even though he is big and good in sports, I let him know that his education was important for him so he would always have something to fall back on.”

Zephin Rector is keenly aware that he is in a unique situation. He sees it as a blessing and is determined to show his father, family and God that he is worthy of it.

“Being smart and having faith in God brought me here,” he said. “He blessed me.”

The elder Rector calls the nursing industry a good occupation and is hoping and praying that his son succeeds. He plans to stand tall behind him on every path of his journey.

“I am so proud of him, and I thank God everyday for him,” Rector said. “I love him to death. I always told him that I have his back in any situation and in any choice he made. I’m behind him 110 percent.”

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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