Central Piedmont Community College held its 2023 spring commencement ceremonies on Thursday, May 11, in Charlotte. Approximately 900 students "marched" and received their college credentials during the morning and afternoon ceremonies. More than 1,500 students were eligible to graduate.
During the morning festivities at the Bojangles Coliseum, Maria "Fernanda" Moreno Tovar, a 2023 graduate, addressed her peers by delivering the commencement address. RaeDeja Sawyer, also a 2023 graduate, spoke at the afternoon ceremony. It has become Central Piedmont's tradition to have graduating students serve as commencement keynote speakers. Both Maria and RaeDeja were graduating with associate in arts degrees.
Maria shared her experiences and challenges as an immigrant from Mexico. She concluded her address by saying, "As I am standing here today, I am confident that Central Piedmont gave me the right tools to continue chasing my academic goals. I am also confident that just like mine, your struggle can make magic if you take the leap of faith."
RaeDeja recounted how she had lost loved ones during her time at Central Piedmont and how the college provided her much needed support. "This journey has been charged with intense emotion. I have experienced elevating highs and depleting lows, but seeing it through has been most valuable and unforgettable. And the truth is, graduation today does not mark the end of our studies, nor does it mark the end of deadlines, decisions, or expectations," she explained.
Students graduating from Central Piedmont with a degree, diploma, or certificate had the option of participating in either the morning or afternoon ceremony. Central Piedmont combined its for-credit and non-credit program conferrals into both ceremonies, giving graduates the choice to "walk" at the time that best fits their families' schedule.
Lisa Schlachter of Charlotte will join the leadership team at Central Piedmont Community College as the new Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Schlachter will serve the college as its chief fundraising officer and as director of the Central Piedmont Foundation.
Schlachter comes to Central Piedmont from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, where she serves as vice president of financial development. She has more than two decades of experience in fundraising and alumni relations. She began her career in alumni relations at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and she held several roles at Belmont University including capital, donor relations, foundation relations, and stewardship.
"We are delighted to welcome Lisa Schlachter to Central Piedmont," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, college president. "Lisa brings a deep connection to our community through her great work at the YMCA. With her previous experience in higher education and the energy and passion she possesses, she will be a wonderful addition to our team."
In addition to earning a master's degree in institutional advancement from Vanderbilt University, she worked on Vanderbilt's Alumni and Development team. She also served as the assistant head of school for advancement at St. Paul Christian Academy in Nashville, Tenn., where she led the annual campaign, a capital campaign, and major gifts.
"We are very excited about Lisa Schlachter joining Central Piedmont as its new Vice President of Institutional Advancement," said Weston Andress, Central Piedmont Foundation board president. "Lisa's energetic personality and her experience at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and other non-profits will help take Central Piedmont's already successful advancement efforts to a new level."
Central Piedmont completed its "Powering a Stronger Future" campaign in June 2022. It was the most ambitious and successful campaign in the college's history, raising $66.3 million and surpassing its goal by more than $26 million.
In addition to her master's degree from Vanderbilt, Schlachter earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She will begin her tenure at Central Piedmont on May 5.
"I am thrilled to return to higher education as a member of the Central Piedmont Community College leadership team, and I am eager to combine my passion for education with my commitment to serve our community through this role," Schlachter said. "It is very exciting to come in following an extremely successful campaign and build on the college's reputation of strong community service and support."Read more
by Hannah McClellan, EdNC.org
The summer after Tyler Jackson graduated from high school, he took two college courses through Central Piedmont Community College's Summer Bridge program, meant to help students successfully transition from high school to college.
After one of the orientation sessions Jackson attended, a college staff member dismissed all participants but the "opportunity scholars." Jackson was not an opportunity scholar at the time and he knew little about the program, but he was curious, so he decide to stay behind and learn more. That decision led to Jackson applying for and eventually receiving the scholarship he says changed his life.
"Central Piedmont has opened so many doors," Jackson said in a college promotional video. "They cared more about who I was as a person. Being able to go to school without having to worry about the cost I'm just grateful."
Jackson is one of nearly 400 opportunity scholars Central Piedmont Community College has served since it launched the program in 2017, according to college data last fall. Through the Opportunity Scholarship, students underrepresented in college receive funding to fully cover tuition, books, and fees for two years. In addition, these students receive a notebook computer and access to one-on-one academic coaching for career planning, internships, and job placement.
This support was key for his success, said Jackson, who graduated with an associate of arts degree in December. During the start of the pandemic and remote learning, college staff members kept him from "falling through the cracks."
"It's been a long time coming," he told EdNC. "And my experience has been amazing. I've always felt welcome. Especially being an opportunity scholar, that opened up so many more doors being able to sit in different meetings, visit different places, and being able to have exposure to these things I wouldn't have probably had if I wasn't an opportunity scholar."
The total number of Opportunity Scholarships offered per year varies based on available funding provided by local donors, the college's website says. You can learn more about the scholarship and how to apply here. You can learn about N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) scholarships here.
'What community college can do'
Many community college students some of them adult learners, low income, or first-generation college-goers experience various barriers that can make academic success more difficult. In recent years, North Carolina community colleges have increasingly added support to help their students stay in college.
Community college leaders say meeting the financial, transportation, and child care needs of students helps them complete their programs.
About 48% of N.C. Community College students complete a degree or credential in six years, based on 2022 data from myFutureNC. That rate is lower for students ages 21-24 (38%), Black students (30%), and part-time students (20%).
In comparison, nearly 150 opportunity scholars have graduated from Central Piedmont since 2017. That's a 53% completion rate for cohorts through 2020-21, each before the six-year completion target used by myFutureNC. This success rate is in spite of the fact that many opportunity scholars face more barriers to completion compared to the general community college population. The majority of scholars in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 cohorts can graduate starting this year.
Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president at Central Piedmont, said the Opportunity Scholarship is one of many ways the college is working to expand its impact on students, the economy, and the wider community.
Central Piedmont adds $827.7 million to the economy each year, according to a recent economic impact study, and supports 11,274 jobs. For every dollar students invest in their education at Central Piedmont, they gain $3.80 in lifetime earnings.
"The college helps students increase their employability and achieve their individual potential," Deitemeyer said in a release. "Central Piedmont provides students with the education, training, and skills they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers that provide real economic mobility."
Dr. Deninne Pritchett, the college's chair of psychology, understands that economic mobility well.
Pritchett first started college as a teen mother, at 18. She dropped out of college four times and once from Central Piedmont before returning to successfully graduate from the college in 2010 with an associate degree in art.
"When I arrived at Central Piedmont, there was something different here," she said. "Even the first time when I didn't stay, there was something different, which led me to come back."
Pritchett, who went on to earn a doctorate in psychology, is now the creator of the Adjunct Faculty Learning Community and facilitator for the Diversified Teaching Practices Learning Commons at the college. She also earned an American College and University Educators (ACUE) Advanced Certificate for Teaching Effectiveness and is a featured expert in an ACUE course on learner-centered, equitable teaching practices.
"It just seems like this is what I'm supposed to be doing, because this is where my foundation was set," Pritchett said.
Today, in addition to teaching students psychology, Pritchett aims to make them feel welcomed, understood, and empowered.
She believes that one interaction can change everything, because for her, it did. The last time she enrolled at Central Piedmont, it was a kind financial aid advisor who made her believe in herself.
"I'm a representative of what community college can do for you," Pritchett said. "It's like a full-circle moment that I don't sit high and look low, this is a partnership for me to support students to get wherever they want to get to, whatever that goal is."
For Tyler Jackson, his goal of graduating college expanded to studying abroad while at Central Piedmont and joining student government goals he achieved without stressing about money, thanks to the scholarship program. After graduating with his associate degree debt-free, he feels well-positioned to pursue a bachelor's degree in business and media at UNC Charlotte. In the meantime, he's applied to be a substitute teacher at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, in addition to working at his production company and promoting his film, "LoverBoy The Movie." He's also dreaming about becoming a full-time entertainer acting, filmmaking, and directing or a professor in the arts.
For him, programs like the Opportunity Scholarship are important because they help first-generation and low-income students "seek better" for themselves. Today, he also works as a tutor coordinator at TRIO, Upward Bound the program that initially connected him to Central Piedmont's Summer Bridge program where he aims to be like the mentors he found at Central Piedmont to younger students.
Jackson is grateful for where he is following graduation and is excited for his future and his career. But, what if he decides to pursue something completely different?
"I can also always come back to Central Piedmont," he said. "It's a place where I've always felt at home."Republished with permission from https://www.ednc.org/central-piedmont-community-college-wants-to-create-opportunity/. Read more
Bachelor degree graduates who are considering a career in the elementary school classroom will soon be able to receive teacher licensing at multiple North Carolina community colleges, including Central Piedmont Community College.
The new program makes teacher licensing more affordable and convenient with classes at local community colleges. The seven institutions approved thus far to offer the new licensing program are Alamance, Blue Ridge, Central Piedmont, Fayetteville Technical, McDowell Technical, Wayne, and Western Piedmont community colleges.
Central Piedmont will launch its program in August, with the beginning of the fall 2023 semester. The Elementary Education Residency Licensure Certificate program will offer instruction and coaching for residency elementary teachers seeking licensure. This program will help support students with classroom observations and one-on-one sessions, and assist with the creation of their portfolio in preparation for licensing from the state.
This new path to elementary licensure will expand Central Piedmont's current teacher preparation track, which prepares students to transfer to a bachelor degree education program through completion of an associate in arts or associate in science degree.
For more information about Central Piedmont's new teacher licensing certificate program, email Jennifer Perkins, chair of the Teacher Preparation Pathway Program.
Central Piedmont alumnus and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John H. White was featured by Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM in their Black History Month Artist Series.
See the full video interview via their website: Admired Chicago photographer John H. White chronicles the humanity of history Read more
For the first time in its 59-year history, Central Piedmont Community College held a December commencement on Dec. 13, in Charlotte. Approximately 510 students walked across the Bojangles Coliseum stage to receive their earned credentials. More than 1,200 students had completed their programs of studies since Central Piedmont's May graduation.
Linda Nelson, a 2022 graduate, addressed her peers by delivering the commencement address. Nelson, an adult student who holds an MBA, is a new graduate from Central Piedmont with an Associate in Applied Science degree in horticulture.
Central Piedmont was excited to offer a winter commencement this year to honor its graduates who completed their programs during the 2022 summer and fall semesters. The addition of a winter ceremony allows the college to honor and celebrate its summer and fall graduates in the same timely way as its spring graduates.
For more information about Central Piedmont's nearly 300 degree, diploma and certificate programs, including GED and adult high school, visit the college website.
Central Piedmont Community College has graduated its first class of practical nurses from the Dickson Practical Nursing Program. The 10 graduates from the newly-established one-year program are now eligible to sit for the national licensure exam to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).
The new graduates participated in a nursing pinning ceremony on Dec. 6, and will walk in Central Piedmont's first-ever winter graduation ceremony on Dec. 13, at Bojangles Coliseum.
The Dickson Foundation of Charlotte awarded Central Piedmont a $500,000 grant in 2021 to develop a new LPN program at the college to provide students an accelerated path to a meaningful, family-sustaining career in the healthcare industry and address specific employment needs within the Charlotte region's healthcare sector.
The Dickson Practical Nursing Program enables students to earn their professional credential in one year, preparing them for employment more quickly. This is especially important, given the median LPN salary is $48,055, which offers a viable economic-mobility pathway for lower-income residents in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
LPNs work under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN), with employment opportunities available immediately in hospitals; rehabilitation, long-term care, and home health facilities; clinics; and physicians' offices.
Central Piedmont will expand the second class to as many as 24 seats and then monitor local needs for LPNs and adjust the size of future classes to meet demand. The program is based on the college's Central Campus.
Titan Solar Power has given Central Piedmont Community College a grant of $15,000 to assist the college in enriching the experience of underrepresented students in its associate degree STEM programs.
The grant will provide funds for students to participate in STEM exposure workshops, career panels, STEM-related counseling for university transfer, and STEM company visits. The college also will use the grant to hold "STEM Tank" competitions, during which students will propose solutions to STEM-related problems relevant to the Central Piedmont and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region.
The grant period will run through June 2023 and be open to as many as 60 students in Central Piedmont's Associate of Science, Associate of Engineering, and Associate of Applied Science programs.
"At Titan Solar Power, we believe service to others is an essential part of the human experience. Our branches nationwide are empowered and encouraged to select local charity partners that align with their culture and call to their hearts. On behalf of our Charlotte branch, we are thrilled to partner with Central Piedmont Community College to support the extraordinary work it does," said Sam Jones, Titan Solar Power director of public relations and marketing.
According to the Pew Research Center and Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM employment needs are projected to grow by 9.2 percent by 2029. However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and American Council on Education, only 18 percent of all higher education degrees are awarded each year in STEM fields. Of STEM degree recipients nationally, only 32.4 percent are female, 12.6 percent are Black, and 16.7 percent are Latino/Hispanic.
At the same time, North Carolina ranks only 26th in the nation in engineers as a percentage of the workforce, according to data compiled by the National Science Board. Studies show states and regions with a high concentration of engineers have a greater capacity for innovation and often lead in key industries.
"Anything we can do to recruit and retain students in our STEM degree programs is important and greatly needed in the Charlotte region and across North Carolina" said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "That's why this generous grant from Titan Solar Power will have such a positive and significant impact. The college thanks Titan Solar Power for its support and partnership."
Central Piedmont offers more than a dozen STEM programs. Visit the college website for full details.
RegisteredNursing.org, a nursing advocacy organization, has released its annual lists of "Best RN Programs." Central Piedmont Community College's RN program is ranked number two among the 20 that were evaluated in North Carolina. The number-two ranking is the highest among N.C. community college programs.
The complete "2023 Best RN Programs in North Carolina" ranking can be found at https://www.registerednursing.org/state/north-carolina/#rankings. RegisteredNursing.org assessed nursing programs using several factors which represent how well a program supports students toward licensure and beyond. Details about the methodology used can be reviewed at https://www.registerednursing.org/rn-ranking-methodology/.
Central Piedmont's nursing program is the oldest program in the N.C. Community College System and has graduated more than 3,000 students since its inception in 1965. Interested students can apply to enter three different nursing tracks:
- The Christa A. Overcash Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) Program
- The one-year Dickson Practical Nursing Program
- Nurse Aide Program.
To learn more about Central Piedmont's more than 20 healthcare career programs, visit the college website.
For information on financial assistance available through Central Piedmont Foundation scholarships for nursing students, visit our scholarship portal.
Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award and the Young Alumni Award of Excellence. These awards recognize a Central Piedmont Community College graduate who has significantly benefited from their experiences at the college and whose efforts have helped the community.
Nominate an outstanding alumnus using our nomination form.
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