Tarma Fontaine on her big day in her graduation gown.

Former Dominica Community High School student Tarma Fontaine has made a name for herself at the Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte (CPCC) despite some setbacks.

Fontaine was drawn to Charlotte by her now deceased uncle Steven St. Rose, who offered to help pay for her studies in the United States.

However, on Christmas eve her uncle passed away following a brain tumor surgery.

St. Rose had left just enough money to pay his niece’s tuition for a semester at CPCC and despite not knowing how she’d pay for the rest of her time at the College, Fontaine launched into her associate degree in sciences.

“I was sad when I arrived in Charlotte because my uncle had died but excited that I had the opportunity to study here to improve my education” she said.

Fontaine along with 600 students graduated this year. She wants to pursue a degree in civil and environmental engineering.

But she was not born with a ‘golden spoon’ in her mouth and she noted that had it not been for her perseverance she would not have gotten this far.

Her father is employed as a security guard for a petroleum company and her mother works at a local daycare center-hardly capable of sending her to school in the US with four other children at home.

“My uncle offered to get me started. It was a stepping stone for something bigger,”  she added.

Meantime head of the Dean of Students Life and Service Learning at CPCC Mark Helms says Fontaine has shown amazing tenacity and savvy in terms of sticking with it through many challenges.

Although she has had “curveballs thrown at her financially that would have made it easy to give up and go back home, but she hung in there with a positive attitude,” Helms recalled.

“She’s a success waiting to happen,” he added.

A Levin Scholarship paid $1, 250 per semester while a Lede4rs Promise Scholarship gave an additional $500 each semester.

The Government of Dominica also provided help for Fontaine while she earned the rest of her school tuition working jobs on campus including in the box office at CPCC’s Halton Theatre.