RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Monday marked the first day of classes for Wake Tech students—and this semester is expected to see the largest number of students returning since before the pandemic.

Approximately 22,000 students walked into classrooms on Monday across Wake Tech’s six campuses. CBS 17 was able to speak with a few students who were eager to come back and pursue their education.

Scott Ralls is the President for Wake Tech, and he greeted every student that walked by.

“It’s the first day of our academic year, we’re all excited—students, staff, faculty and everybody.”

Wake Tech is North Carolina’s largest community college, serving more 70,000 students. This year 22,000 degree seeking students are enrolled at the college.

(Darran Todd/CBS 17)

“This is a year where we are able to start with more normalcy than we’ve had in the last couple of years and that’s another reason we’re so excited,” Ralls said.

CBS17 spoke to freshmen coming to the campus for the first time and some coming years later.

“I prefer students come in person because they can pretty much ask questions that online cannot provide,” said freshman student Albanian Korome.

“I just took my class at 8 a.m. and my teacher was really nice, and it was awesome. Good first day of class for sure,” freshman Peter South said.

However, Denita Woods isn’t your traditional student, right out of high school.

“I just made sure I did everything in the background—to be as prepared as possible,” Woods said with a huge smile on her face.

(Darran Todd/CBS 17)

But I don’t think she was ready for what’s to come. President Ralls surprised a handful of students with a $250 scholarship from the Wake Tech Foundation.

Denita was approached sometime after with a golden ticket.

“This is going to help with books and everything else. I mean this really set my day off. It set the tone to let me know that everything is working out,” Denita said.

“We give those to deserving students to help them come to Wake Tech. You know accounting books can be expensive; so, we’re honored to be able to support her through our foundation support,” President Ralls said.

Dr. Ralls said he will be giving out 9 more of these tickets this week. Also offering him a chance to get to know the students on a personal level.

Wake Tech has planned several welcome back events. Click here for more.