Pender County student excels academically despite being displaced by Hurricane Florence

Updated: Apr. 8, 2019 at 9:04 PM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Cody Bollinger is one of the nearly 800 students in Pender County Schools still displaced after Hurricane Florence made landfall in September 2018.

The senior at Pender County Early College lost everything in the storm, except his drive to succeed in the classroom. Bollinger and his family, along with his three dogs, live in a camper now because their home was torn down. He said it was difficult to focus on academics instead of his family’s situation in the first days back at school after the storm but that didn’t last long.

“I was worried about the home life but I guess it’s just how academically I’ve always focused towards academics," Bollinger said. "That got me back on track.”

Despite his living situation, Bollinger continued to excel in the classroom. He was offered a full academic scholarship to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in addition to receiving the Carolina Covenant Scholarship for financially burdened families.

“I started seeing academics more as getting back to that normalcy because everything that I had before the storm, the normalcy going home, all that was taken away," Bollinger said. “But academics were still there and remained there, and that became my sanctuary."

Bollinger faced and overcame other challenges prior to Hurricane Florence. Bollinger says he suffers from written dysgraphia, a generalized reading disability, along with childhood speech apraxia and central auditory processing disorder.

Despite those challenges, Bollinger plans to pursue a degree in clinical psychiatry specializing in pediatrics.

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