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Central Carolina's C-STEP program honors first graduates

Click to enlarge Central Carolina's C-STEP program honors first graduates

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Central Carolina Community College honored its first six graduates of the University of North Carolina-Chapel ... (more)

Click to enlarge Central Carolina's C-STEP program honors first graduates

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Central Carolina Community College honored its first six graduates of the University of North Carolina-Chapel ... (more)

05.18.2012College & CommunityStudents/Graduates

SANFORD - Six Central Carolina Community College students are on their way to success at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, thanks to the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP).

"C-STEP has been an exceptional opportunity," said program graduate Ashley Perry, of Chatham County.

Perry, who plans to major in biology, is one of the first six C-STEP graduates from Central Carolina Community College. The college honored the graduates at a May 10 recognition dinner.

The other graduates, and their planned university majors, are: Tracy McInturff - geography, Steven Richard - biology, and Tannaz Mohammadi-Gharaghani - biology, all of Chatham County; Jessica Cooper, psychology, of Lee County; and Joseph Bozik, psychology, of Wake County.

C-STEP is a UNC-Chapel Hill program that partners with seven community colleges, including CCCC. Selected talented low- and moderate-income students are assured admission to the university if they complete the program. That includes earning transferrable associate degrees as well as taking part in special events and advising at both the college and university.

The university also enables C-STEP students to meet all of their demonstrated financial needs through grants, scholarships and loans. Qualified C-STEP students are offered the opportunity to enroll as Carolina Covenant scholars, that enables low-socioeconomic students to graduate debt-free.

"C-STEP provides a unique opportunity for participants to become a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill family while still being a part of Central Carolina Community College's family," said Mark Hall, CCCC Humanities lead instructor and the college's C-STEP advisor. "This connection to both institutions strengthens the students' academic and non-academic experiences as they advance their education. C-STEP's aim is to support its students socially, academically, and financially to ensure their successful futures. For all these reasons and more, I think C-STEP is of significant importance to our students."

The college and university established their C-STEP partnership in 2011. The program is funded through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

"This is a very prestigious program," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "I'm proud of Mark Hall and the students who participated. This graduation says a great deal about them and about the faculty who worked with them."

The college's C-STEP graduation brought together the 2012 graduates, those who will complete the program in 2013, families, friends and college representatives to honor the graduates. Some graduates will start at UNC-CH this summer, while others will start in the fall.

Dr. Lisa Chapman, the college's executive vice president of Instruction/chief academic officer and UNC-CH graduate addressed the gathering.

"It's really important to build relationships," she said. "The time you spend at UNC-Chapel Hill will be wonderful as long as you pay attention to networking. Give back to the institutions you attend. Please always remember where you got your start - we are so proud of you."

Not only did the graduates complete the C-STEP program requirements, but also excelled in their studies at CCCC. All six achieved listing in Who's Who Among Students at America's Colleges and Universities. Richard and Cooper served as college Ambassadors. Cooper also received the N.C. Community College's Academic Excellence Award.

To be accepted into C-STEP, each of the students went through a competitive application process, including letters of recommendation, high school and college transcripts, and an application essay. These were reviewed by a committee of college faculty and administrators, which then made recommendations to UNC-CH. The university made the final decision on whom to accept into C-STEP.

Hall said that C-STEP helps transferring students acclimate and develop a sense of belonging to UNC-CH before they are officially enrolled there. The C-STEP graduates will maintain a connection to CCCC, helping to guide and mentor those who come after them.

"The hope is that transferring as a C-STEP student from CCCC to UNC-CH will be seamless and smooth," Hall said, "resulting in earning a baccalaureate degree from one of the best universities in the nation."

At the recognition program, the C-STEP Class of 2012 each received a small UNC-Chapel Hill Old Well ornament, a tumbler with the member and CCCC's name and C-STEP graduation year, and a UNC-blue tassel for their college graduation caps. On behalf of the graduates, Bozik presented Hall with a plaque, thanking him for his dedicated work with them in the C-STEP program.

The college's current C-STEP students on-track to transfer to UNC-CH in 2013 also attended the dinner: Alexandria Clayton, Eduardo Platon, Dustin Mauldin and Jon Wert, all of Chatham County; Joshua Wirick, Kimberly Guin, Shane Sherron and Taylor Kyer-Flood, all of Lee County; and Morgan Howell, of Moore County.

For more information about the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's C-STEP at Central Carolina Community College, contact Hall at