Selma woman says hyphenated last name stands between her and her dream


SELMA, N.C. (WNCN) – A hyphen is all that’s standing between one woman and her dream of starting nursing school.

The hyphen is in her last name and it’s shown differently on some of her legal documents.

That difference could be costing her a career.

On September 7, Deona Williams-scott made the drive from Selma to a testing center in Wilson to take a nursing exam.

Instead, she drove home in tears.

Since then it has been one confusing turn after another.

“I just wanted to test and a hyphen has put me back so much, and it’s just heartbreaking for me,” said Williams-scott.

She wants to be a nurse anesthetist and she’s already been accepted to nursing school.

But that acceptance is dependent on taking a nurse aide exam.

“I’ve been studying since June of this year, I even did some clinical worksites,” she said.

Williams-scott was ready for the test, administered by the company Pearson VUE. But, when she showed up for the test she was turned away.

“The proctor looked at my ID and my SSN card and told me it did not match because of the missing hyphen on my social security card,” she recalled.

Williams-scott was confused by what the Pearson VUE proctor told her.

Her legal name on her birth certificate and driver’s license has a hyphen in her last name.

The Social Security Administration doesn’t print characters like hyphens on Social Security cards.

She says she’s tried to explain the situation to various employees at Pearson VUE.

She even went to the DMV and the Social Security office.

“We’re just juggling who to talk to and have people talk on my behalf just to explain that I can’t add a hyphen or delete a hyphen, and that this is my legal name and I can’t change it,” said Williams-scott.

Friday she got her first piece of good news from Pearson VUE.

She may get a chance to take the exam September 24.

But, if she doesn’t take the test before the end of the month, she won’t get to start nursing school this year and will have to re-apply.

“Nursing school is very competitive and just to be sent back to apply next year, it really just tears me apart,” she said.

CBS North Carolina reached out to Pearson VUE to ask about Williams-scott’s case and their policies on hyphens in names.

They gave CBS North Carolina this statement:

“Pearson VUE works closely with all of our state customers to meet their needs and requirements, including name matching policies; however, we cannot comment on any specific customer, case or external inquiries.”

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