Community leader Wanda Garrett receives Honorary Associate of Arts degree from Durham Tech
Former Board of Trustees member Dr. Wanda J. Garrett, a longtime Durham resident and highly regarded community leader, received an Honorary Associate of Arts degree at the college’s Commencement on May 24, 2023, in recognition of her service to Durham Technical Community College and the community.
“I was just elated when I got the call,” Dr. Garrett said. “I’ve been pleased to be part of Durham Tech’s role in the community, helping create a more learned citizenry.”
Durham Technical Community College President J.B. Buxton said it was an honor for the college to have the opportunity to recognize Dr. Garrett’s service to the community and, particularly because of her devotion to education.
“Wanda Garrett has been a tremendous gift for Durham. Her advocacy and engagement have changed lives and institutions, as she worked to ensure all students had access to high-quality education,” Buxton said. “The College is so fortunate to have had her be a part of shaping its evolution. I am honored to be here today with her.”
Dr. Garrett moved from Detroit to Durham in 1962. She taught at Hillside High School, where she started the school’s storied drama program. “I am proud of what it has become,” Dr. Garrett said.
She later taught Speech Communication, Public Speaking and the Oral interpretation of Literature at North Carolina Central University. “What I loved most about teaching was the students,” she said.
In addition, Dr. Garrett in the early 1970s produced and hosted WTVD’s groundbreaking “Black Unlimited,” a show about Durham’s Black community. The show provided access for the Durham community, and exposure to local and nationally famous personalities. She has played a significant role in the arts throughout the years. She was appointed to the N.C. State Art Society by former Gov. Jim Hunt.
After receiving her Juris Doctorate from NCCU Law school in 1985, she experienced a totally different work environment when she was appointed to the Parole Commission by former Gov. Jim Martin.
Former Durham Technical Community College President Phail Wynn invited her to serve on the College’s Board of Trustees, on which she served from 1981-2008. “Part of my motivation for joining the board at Durham Tech was my devotion to education and to young people. There are varied pathways to success. I want to help people find their pathway to success,” she said. “I believe community college provides many opportunities for individual choices. I truly believe in the work of community colleges.”
Dr. Garrett has been a part of several social and civic organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, the National Smart Set and the College View Bridge Club.
She and her late husband, Nathan T. Garrett, Sr., the first practicing Black certified public accountant in North Carolina, both graduated NCCU’s law school.
They have three children, seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.