Timing Right for ACE Graduate Ferguson

Keith Ferguson earned an associate degree while in high school. He turned 20 at the beginning of December, and is less than a year away from earning a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies at the College of William & Mary.

Some would say he’s been lucky. He thinks it’s more than that.

“I was put in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I’ve been put in a lot of great positions to do the things I love.”

Among the first, he said, was when his parents enrolled him in the Academy of the Advanced College Experience (ACE) at Phoebus High School. It’s a dual enrollment program with Virginia Peninsula Community College where students earn an associate degree while simultaneously earning a high school diploma.

“We were the guinea pigs, the very first class,” he said. “Being the first class of the ACE Academy, that was a benefit.”

After graduating from Phoebus in 2021 with his high school diploma and an associate degree in social science, he headed to W&M, another “right place at the right time” situation. He says his high school accomplishments put him a step ahead of many of his W&M classmates.

“I can focus more on my major and stuff that I actually want to do,” he said.

He could earn his undergraduate degree next year, but might stay four years to experience all college has to offer. He’s thinking of earning a second major in English, business or psychology, but is in no hurry to decide.

His accelerated track in education led to yet another “right place at the right time” situation at W&M. In the summer, he participated in an internship with WAVY-TV, the local NBC affiliate. He was eligible because he was a junior in college.

“It’s put me in a position I didn't expect to be in so early,” he said of his experience with the ACE Academy. “I’d be a little bit farther behind if I had not gone to VPCC.”

Ferguson traces his interest in media, film, and the arts to his family. His sister is an author. His father used to do a lot of filming and “has that creative gene in him.” One of his uncles is an actor, and another one is a musician.

“I've always had a passion for it,” he said. “And I grew up in Calvary Community Church, where they pretty much got that personality out of me from the very beginning.”

He said he’s never been shy, not even in preschool or kindergarten.

“To be honest. I love it,” he said of performing in front of people.

The internship at WAVY provided him with the opportunity to see how things worked behind the camera, as well as in front of it. He was assigned to the promotions department and learned how to create commercials and how to advertise products effectively.

He also accompanied anchors and field reporters on news stories, recalling a memorable experience with Andy Fox.

“I got to see how it feels to go and do a breaking news story,” he said. “I got to experience how it feels to be behind the scenes on the ‘Hampton Roads Today’ show.

With the latter, he learned about camera work and directing.

“Everything is very specific, very time-based,” he said. “I got to pretty much experience the whole station and see how it really feels to be a news person.”

Working on the “Hampton Roads Today” show reunited him with VPCC President Towuanna Porter Brannon. She was a guest, and Ferguson was part of the crew that day. She remembered having met Ferguson last year during his ACE graduation at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center.

After finishing at W&M, Ferguson wants to pursue acting, writing, producing, and directing.

“I love being on stage. I love talking to people. I love doing different things. I just love entertainment,” he said.

Being successful in a tough business often comes down to being in the right place at the right time. He has a knack for that and knows where it began: with the ACE Academy sponsored by Phoebus High School and Virginia Peninsula Community College.

“I definitely will recommend it. It really does put you in a better position,” he said. “It’s putting me in a great position.”

Learn more about ACE here. While ACE targets Phoebus High School students, the College provides dual enrollment opportunities for others throughout the Peninsula. Get details here.