HUB Program Reconnects Alumna to Central Piedmont

Central Piedmont recently hosted its first "Chat, Sip, and Chew" event to bring Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) to campus that specialize in culinary and food services to meet with faculty and staff. 

Twenty-four vendors shared their backgrounds and showcased how Central Piedmont could partner with their businesses. 

One of those vendors, Jorieka Downey, graduated from the college in 2014 and overcame many hurdles to grow her business, G.R.I.T.S. CLT, into one of the top food trucks and caterers in Charlotte. 

Growing up in a family full of chefs, the culinary program at Central Piedmont drew Downey in, and the single mom of three embraced the challenge.  

"I was working two jobs and going to school full-time," she said. "I would go to work third shift at a group home, staying up most of the night, and trying to do homework when the residents were asleep. I would then catch a little nap, drive to Central Piedmont, and go to classes for eight hours. Then I'd go home to try to spend some time with my kids before starting it all over again. It was a battle during those couple of years to be a mom." 

After she graduated, Downey set out on a five-year plan to own and operate her own food truck. She started her career working for Compass Group in a variety of roles, including lead entrée chef, and during her time there became connected with a woman who would eventually become a business partner. 

That partnership helped pave the way for Downey to start her own business, which began as a caterer. She built her popularity at events such as the 2019 NBA All Star Game in Charlotte and the CIAA Basketball Tournament. 

"Word just traveled," Downey said. "Our social media presence started to grow. We went viral with a stuffed turkey leg, and I know for certain I was the first to bring that to Charlotte. We had over 30,000 views. We'd put mac and cheese, collard greens, or yams in it. We would deep fry it southern style. That really made us grow." 

Soon, Downey was even catering for concerts with acts such as Busta Rhymes, 112, Marsha Ambrosius, and more as her popularity spread. 

However, like many others in the food industry, COVID played an impact on the growth of her business. But Downey used the rest of her savings, along with loans and grants during that period, to achieve her dream of purchasing her own food truck, and success soon followed. 

In 2022, Downey won the "Charlotte's Best Black-owned Food Truck" competition, sponsored by Duke's Mayo and judged by the likes of Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Congresswoman Alma Adams, and others. 

Though the food truck was recently damaged in a fire, Downey has continued to persevere, and encourages Central Piedmont's students to maintain that same attitude. 

"Stay in it," she said. "If it's your goal or passion, you have to give it your all. Put your best foot in and never give up." 

Posted in Foundation News.

One trustee reappointed, two newly appointed to Central Piedmont board

Central Piedmont Community College's Board of Trustees recently had one member reappointed and two members appointed for the first time. Each will serve a four-year term through June 2028.

Jim Dunn, a seasoned executive and human resources professional, was reappointed to the Central Piedmont board by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. Dunn is the President and CEO of LD Human Capital Consulting and has spent more than 30 years developing expertise in strategic human resources, organizational development, and leadership. He has served as a Central Piedmont Trustee since 2020.

Carrie Baker received her appointment from the N.C. Senate. Baker is the Chief HR Officer for Resolution Life US. She serves as a member of the company's executive leadership team, which is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction for the company's U.S. market. A talented HR professional, she has more than 20 years of experience building and managing large-scale human resource strategies for major finance companies.

Arrington Mixon was appointed by the N.C. House of Representatives. After a successful and impactful career with Bank of America, Mixon has followed her desire to engage more deeply in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community as a senior member of one of the largest charitable foundations in North Carolina. Since 2017, she has served on the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Capital Management Trust.

"I am delighted with the reappointment of Jim Dunn and the appointment of Carrie Baker and Arrington Mixon to Central Piedmont's Board of Trustees," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "Each of these individuals brings years of executive leadership experience in a variety of roles and a depth of wisdom that comes from serving on other boards and providing sound counsel. The college is in a period of enrollment growth and yet we have the capacity of serve more Mecklenburg County residents and employers. We look to our trustees to be the college's champions and to help share our story of service and transforming lives in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community."

At the board's July 10 meeting, Dunn was elected to serve as chair for a second consecutive year. Caldwell Rose, president of NAI Southern Real Estate in Charlotte, will serve a second year as vice chair.

Posted in Foundation News.

Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 ACA Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to our fall 2023 and spring 2024 ACA Scholarship winners!

Each fall and spring semester, the college's Academic Related Courses (ACA) area selects seven recipients for the ACA Scholarship for awards of $600 each. To apply, students had to write an essay answering the question "Being resilient (the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions) is a life skill that we often do not recognize. How have you been resilient in your journey as a community college student, and what does this journey look like?" Applicants are reviewed based on meeting the scholarship eligibility requirements and on their essay's quality of writing.

Learn more about the ACA Scholarship.

Scholarship Winners

Fall 2023

Fall 2023 Essays (PDF)

  • Yaretzhy Melo-Garcia
  • Lori Jenrette
  • Jaclyn Muckey
  • Sandra Tomas
  • Nandipa Kuuya
  • Maramawit Teketel
  • Thuy Pham

Spring 2024

Spring 2024 Essays (PDF)

  • Momoko Ozaki
  • Elise Ramirez
  • Samantha Stone
  • David Kushnir
  • Nicolas Golafshan
  • Preshonna Stowe
  • Aayush Niroula

Posted in Foundation News.

Central Piedmont earns reaccreditation

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) has reaffirmed the accreditation of Central Piedmont Community College. This 10-year reaffirmation comes after off-site and on-site reviews of the college and its academic programs.

Central Piedmont's reaffirmation means the college overall and its academic programs remain fully accredited. Central Piedmont received official notice of its reaffirmed accreditation on July 1. Central Piedmont's next reaffirmation process will come in 2033-34.

SACSCOC is an institutional accreditor for quality assurance in higher education. SACSCOC accredits institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees, including those offered via distance and correspondence education, and direct assessment within these institutions. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among its members in the United States and international institutions of higher education approved by the SACSCOC Executive Council, Board of Trustees, and the Appeals Committee of the College Delegate Assembly.

Accreditation by SACSCOC signifies the institution 1) has a mission appropriate to higher education, 2) has resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain that mission, and(3) maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees its offers, and that indicate whether it is successful in achieving its stated objectives.

To gain or maintain accreditation with SACSCOC, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement and with the policies and procedures of the commission. SACSCOC applies the requirements of its principles to all applicant, candidate, and member institutions, regardless of type of institution (public, private for-profit, or private not-for-profit).

Posted in Foundation News.