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Bill Hooks

Pursuing an education leads to a great career

Bill Hooks wanted to get a college degree but couldn't afford to work full-time and go to school full-time. The company where he worked at as a machinist announced layoffs. He took a voluntary layoff and pursued his education. "It worked out great," he said. Hooks loved South Piedmont Community College's Mechanical Engineering Technology program. "We had great instructors and were able to get more hands-on learning," he said. Once he graduated with his degree, he transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to obtain his bachelor's. Now he's a mechanical engineer and couldn't be happier.

   

Chuck Tyson

'Blessing in disguise'

Chuck Tyson was forced to reevaluate his life a few years ago when he was laid off from his job as a fabricator. Tyson hadn't really considered college before 2004. He graduated high school and went to work. "I lucked up and got a good job that paid really well," he said. But unemployment, he said, was a 'blessing in disguise.' Tyson invested himself in South Piedmont Community College's Mechanical Engineering Technology program. He graduated from SPCC and transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Now he has a dream career as a product engineer.

   

Marsha Long

SPCC grad is 'Top 10' nurse in NC

Marsha Long returned to school at age 51. She graduated from the Practical Nursing program at South Piedmont Community College in 2004, and she's been shining as an LPN at the Jesse Helms Nursing Center in Monroe ever since. Her peers in the North Carolina Nurses Association honored her as one of the state's Top 10 Nurses during National Nurses Week May 6-12, 2009. Long was the July 2009 employee of the month at Carolinas Medical Center-Union. She chose geriatrics as her specialty during nursing school when she found her relationships with long-term care patients to be so rewarding.

   

Chanda Collins

Financial aid and community atmosphere help student accomplish dream

Chanda Collins knew she wanted a career in criminal justice but she didn't think college was in the cards. "I started late in life to college," Collins said. "I always thought you had to have a lot of money to go to school." When she researched South Piedmont Community in her home county of Anson, she quickly realized that financial aid and scholarships made it easy to afford an education. "Once I found out about financial aid, I thought, 'I can do this,'" she said. She earned her associate's degree from SPCC in criminal justice but she didn't stop there. She received her bachelor's degree from Wingate. Now she's living her dream as a deputy sheriff for the Anson County Sheriff's Office. "South Piedmont Community College is just that, a community. They made it possible."

   

Sherry Meehan

It's never too late for a challenge...or new career

After 20 years of working in college and church administration, Sherry Meehan wanted a change. "I was looking for a challenge," she said. With an interest in the paralegal profession, Meehan called South Piedmont Community College Paralegal Coordinator Deneice Hendrick. Hendrick introduced Meehan to three graduates of the paralegal program as they stopped by their workplaces. All three raved about the school and the job. "That impressed me," Meehan said. She also was drawn to SPCC's low tuition cost and a class schedule that allowed her to work a full-time job. Even though she was no stranger to college - she earned a four-year degree in teaching from Warren Wilson College in 1996 - Meehan still experienced some trepidation going back to school after more than 10 years. That changed once she walked into her first class. "Once I got into the program, I found the instructors were exceptional and very patient," she said. It didn't hurt that she could relate to her classmates. Most had families and hadn't been to school in years. "There was camaraderie," she said. After three semesters, Meehan graduated with her paralegal technology degree. She's now enjoying her new career as a paralegal in Monroe. "I wish I would have done it 20 years ago," she said. "I really love what I do."

   

'If I can do it, anyone can'

When April Coffey was going to South Piedmont Community College to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) she was raising three kids, working two jobs, caring for an ailing grandmother, going to school full-time and was nine months pregnant with a fourth child. Coffey says she's the poster child of "if I can do it, anyone can.' "I had to set my mind to be determined to finish," Coffey said. "I wasn't letting anything stop me." Now, Coffey is a Certified Medical Assistant. She loves her job.

   

Dillon Melton

Two degrees equal one great job

Dillon Melton graduated from South Piedmont Community College with dual associate's degrees in accounting and business administration. His SPCC accounting instructor helped him land a job in 2000 at Select Stainless in Matthews. Melton worked for two years in accounting, and his duties included setting up a computerized payroll system that could accommodate a growing workforce. Now the national sales manager, Melton has enjoyed seeing the company grow from 10 to 150 employees. "I wanted to go to a community college, get some skills I could use on the job, and go to work. I figured two years of experience would get me further than two more years in school, and that's the way it's worked out. If I had to go back, I would choose SPCC again."

   

Lauren Hyatt

Her education and job 'worked out perfectly'

Even though her mother, aunt and grandmother were nurses, Lauren Hyatt said she would not have become a nurse, if South Piedmont Community College hadn't begun offering associate degree nursing. Hyatt enrolled at SPCC, and before she graduated, she landed a job. The 22-year-old loves working as a registered nurse in Monroe. She'll be returning to SPCC to finish transfer courses so she can obtain her bachelor's degree at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. So far, she says, her education and job have worked out perfectly.

   

Ken Menzel

'I knew I needed that little piece of paper to get a job'

Banks generate millions of electronic transactions every day. At Fidelity Information Systems, a major financial network provider, Ken Menzel maintains more than 200 routers and switches that allow banks to complete many of these transactions. Menzel, who was home schooled, grew up loving computers. He decided to follow his passion and earn a college degree at South Piedmont Community College. Menzel's first step at SPCC was to earn a General Educational Development Diploma (GED). He completed his GED in one testing cycle and enrolled in the Computer Networking Program. Once Menzel enrolled in his associate degree program, he began a work-study position in the Information Services Department at SPCC. "I believe that the experience I obtained at SPCC in the classroom and in my part-time job helped me start my career at Fidelity Information Systems as a network telecom analyst." Today, Menzel holds numerous industry certifications. "If it wasn't for SPCC, I wouldn't have earned my GED and I wouldn't have the career of my dreams."
   

Kim McNeely

From stay-at-home mom to medical professional

Kim McNeely says she chose South Piedmont Community College because it was "close, convenient and had a great reputation." McNeely earned her associate's degree in Medical Office Administration along with a Medical Insurance Coding diploma. Now the former stay-at-home mom loves her job as a medical office administrator and insurance coder in Monroe. It's a job she landed through SPCC's Cooperative Education Program. "SPCC helped me greatly in preparing for this career. The co-op experience showed me what to expect in a medical office environment. The science classes and medical terminology classes helped me to feel comfortable in the medical environment."

   

Katie Haywood

SPCC training leads to exciting career

Katie Haywood took a few years to decide that firefighting was something she loved and wanted to pursue as a career. She graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 2005. With her degree, she began working full-time in a chemistry lab. She found a great job in her chosen career field, but something was still missing. After getting married to a Wingate volunteer firefighter, Haywood became involved in the Wingate Fire Department, as well. In 2005, she began the basic emergency medical technician class at South Piedmont Community College that is required to become a volunteer firefighter. "Through volunteering at Wingate, I discovered that firefighting is something I really enjoy doing," she said. She returned to SPCC in the spring of 2006 to earn her NHPA 1403, the basic firefighter credential. Haywood was hired to work at Monroe Fire Department's Station 2 in December 2006, and returned to SPCC to complete her training. She finished her training in April and says, "I wanted a career doing something different every day." Thanks to South Piedmont Community College, Haywood has that career.

Jason Keller

Quality service from a quality education

Jason Keller was in the Pilgrim's Pride management training program when he decided to shift gears. He enrolled at SPCC and received degrees in business administration and accounting. He began his career with Select Stainless following a recommendation from his SPCC accounting instructor. He said he clearly made the correct decision to attend SPCC. The educational foundation he received has helped him to provide high quality service that has not only led to his success, but also the success of Select Stainless.

   

Ephraim Davis

'Open yourself up and allow yourself to be molded'

Ephraim Davis had managed a Wadesboro clothing store for three years when he decided he wanted a career change. The 23-year-old enrolled in South Piedmont Community College's Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program. "My SPCC training contributed to my adrenalin need," he said. "They don't just teach you, they show you what you can do. They make you dig deep and you're amazed you can do it." Davis is now a patrol officer with the Wadesboro Police Department - a job he started the day after he graduated from SPCC. "Open yourself up and allow yourself to be molded," he advises. "These instructors have decades of experience. They will get you where you need to be, and you will be a better unit in the end."

   

Faye Richards

The perfect starting point

Like many high school seniors Faye Richards was unsure about her future. She was a good student who excelled academically, but while many of her friends had a clear understanding of where they were heading to college, Richards needed a little more time. "I took a lot of honors courses in high school and knew I wanted to go to college, but I just didn't know where," she said. "Then, when I was walking around college career day, something about SPCC seemed nice, like a close family." She liked the family-friendly feel and the direct personal attention given to each student at South Piedmont Community College. Richards felt the low tuition cost was also extremely beneficial. Richards graduated from SPCC in 2003 with an associate in arts degree. She enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Being part of the college transfer program at SPCC allowed her to take her core classes while preparing for the more in depth classes geared towards her area of concentration. "It was such a smooth transition from SPCC to UNC-Charlotte," she said. "The courses lined up and my time at SPCC absolutely prepared me as I moved on to UNC-Charlotte." She earned her bachelor's in history from UNCC. Richards now works at Johnson C. Smith University. The SPCC mantra of 'Start here...Go anywhere!' is something Richards holds close to her heart. "It's really true," she said. "I didn't realize that until I left SPCC and went to UNC-Charlotte. SPCC can really be the jumping off point, the starting point or even the coming back point. It is here when you need it."