ACC Success Stories
Alamance Community College is proud to share some of our recent graduates’ success stories!
Working as a dispatcher at Alamance County’s 911 base led me to Alamance Community College to get my EMT-Basic certification and a part-time job with Alamance County EMS. That’s when I knew my place was as a first-responder. When ACC opened its Fire Academy, I was in the first class to earn my firefighter certification. My next stop was the Greensboro Fire Department, riding both Engine and Ladder trucks. My ambition took me to a Level III Fire Inspector and the field of fire and life safety education where, in early 2014, I was recognized as North Carolina’s Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year. I have created multiple education programs for all ages, including Greensboro’s annual Fire Safety Camp for school age children. Thanks to my beginnings at ACC, I make a difference in people’s lives each and every day. It took a lot of hard work, but it’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
At age 40, I finally made the decision to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a police officer. Years ago, I started in ACC’s Criminal Justice program but resigned to take a series of higher-paying jobs that ultimately left me bored and still thinking that my purpose in life was to help people through a law enforcement career. My wife urged me last year to do what makes me happy. Friends at the Mebane Police Department directed me to ACC’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program, where we learned everything–driving, firing range, and subject control and arrest techniques. Four months later I graduated and was hired by the Mebane Police Department where today I work as a patrol officer. I encourage anyone passionate for a career in law enforcement to apply to ACC’s BLET program. It has some of the best instructors around.
Food Production Manager
After graduating from Elon University and working in banking, my love of cooking—the centerpiece of many family gatherings–kept calling my name. So I took a major pay cut, enrolled in ACC’s Culinary Arts program by day, and worked at night as a cook for ARAMARK. I adored my experience in Culinary. All my instructors honed my skills in cooking and managing a kitchen. After graduation in 2009, I stayed with ARAMARK and received two promotions. Today I’m Location Manager/Food Production Manager at Elon University, overseeing the daily operations of a traditional dining hall, a fast-food franchise, and a sports bar. My great joy comes from hearing the employees say they learn something new from me every day. Thinking about enrolling at ACC? Absorb all the knowledge you can, become a human sponge for information, and network with alumni and faculty.
After homeschooling, attending a big university right away felt overwhelming. Alamance Community College seemed the best bet to take transfer credit classes while saving money. ACC accepted me into its C-STEP program, which guarantees entry to UNC Chapel Hill if you earn an associate’s degree first. ACC instructors pushed us to think critically and made sure we were ready to transfer to a four-year school. At UNC, I was more than ready for the School of Journalism and a career encouraged by my ACC English instructor. I’ve worked as a reporter for The Mebane Enterprise since graduating UNC, where I write, take photos, design pages, and pitch story ideas. My advice to ACC students? Get involved in clubs, meet people and study hard. ACC played a big part in what I’m doing today.
Growing up in a family of various artistic talents, I gravitated to the Advertising and Graphic Design program at Alamance Community College after I was laid off in 2011. ACC’s training helped me develop a better understanding of art, communication and how to deliver both simultaneously. Before graduation, I was hired as a pressman at Burlington’s Times-News where I enhanced what I was learning at ACC. After earning my degree, an ACC alumnus told me about a graphic design position at Pro Feet, Inc. where I could use my skills creating logos and designs for socks and team athletics. Within months of my employment, the Lead Graphic Designer spot opened up and I filled that position. Pro Feet sent me back to ACC to obtain certifications in Project Management and Lean Six Sigma in order to take a lead role on projects within the company. As I grow with Pro Feet, I can’t wait to see what opportunities and connections await me as I continue this journey that began at ACC.
Certified Nursing Assistant
At 48, I found myself out of work after many years in manufacturing. Not knowing where to turn, I took my family’s advice and enrolled at Alamance Community College. It had been 30 years since I last attended school, but my compassion for others—especially the elderly—convinced me to try the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. I was nervous about being one of the oldest students in my classes, but my confidence grew quickly in a program I loved learning. I graduated, passed my state exam, and I’ve been employed at The Village at Brookwood in Burlington for the past five years. Working in this field is a real blessing. I definitely found my true calling when I enrolled in ACC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program.
UNC Public Safety
Two years after the printing company where I worked for 25 years eliminated my job, I earned an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice at Alamance Community College. I was in my mid-forties and more than two decades had passed since I last saw a classroom. But thanks to helpful instructors and small classes, I excelled slowly but surely. I made the Dean’s List, served as a college ambassador, was inducted into PTK National Honors Society, and was named one of ACC’s Student Academic Excellence Award recipients. After graduation, I was hired as a Loss Prevention Specialist by Lowe’s Home Improvement, but soon UNC Public Safety came calling. With UNC, I started in traffic and moved up to my current position of Campus Security Authority officer for the Ambulatory Care Center at UNC Health Care. I’m thankful that ACC was there for me when I needed to learn a new career.
With family members working in the medical field, I was inspired as a high school senior to take EMT classes. When I went through the EMT training course at Alamance Community College, I learned so much–about the human body, how to assess patients, how to administer medications, and how to immobilize trauma patients. Following graduation in 2004, I worked for a convalescent ambulance service for a year. But I yearned to become a flight medic. I worked toward that goal by taking a critical care paramedic class while I accumulated four years’ experience on the road treating emergency patients. Now I work as a flight medic with Carolina Air Care. Thanks to the training at ACC, coming to work every day is a joy.
After 27 years working in the medical lab field, I was ready to re-educate myself in a new career. I hit the ground running and enrolled in the Pharmacy Technician course at Burlington’s Goodwill Resource Center through Alamance Community College. I learned retail calculations, pharmacy law, and 200 medications and their generics. It was a lot of homework and studying, but everything taught in class is used at a real pharmacy job. I know this because before the class ended I was hired at the CVS in Mebane as a Pharmacy Technician. I handle prescription drop-offs, enter data into the RX connect system, and even calculate how much a single pill costs when patients only want to purchase enough for a few days. ACC and the Pharmacy Tech program have opened up avenues of opportunity, including preparation to take the National Certification exam. Going to ACC has been the best decision I’ve ever made.
My dream of becoming a defense attorney began with watching TV’s Matlock when I was just a kid. But that goal fizzled when I dropped out of high school to help my family’s finances with whatever jobs I could find. ACC’s Adult High School program was crucial in earning my diploma and a way to better jobs. Next I worked toward an associate’s degree and was accepted into C-STEP, a transfer program offered by ACC that put me on track to go to Carolina. Even while working and taking care of my family, I began to dream bigger and decided on the law as a career. It was tough but ACC prepared me well when I moved on to UNC and its School of Law. I interned in the Orange County D.A’s Office and tried more than 35 cases. With law degree in hand, I start a new job as a defense attorney with a firm in Morehead City. I’m fulfilling my dream and ACC played a big role in getting me get there.
SANG HO LEE
Martial Arts Business Owner
As a Grand Master in Tae Kwon Do, I have owned and operated Lee Brothers Martial Arts Academy in Burlington since 1991. But even with my business success, I have always believed strongly in fulfilling educational goals. That’s why I enrolled at Alamance Community College in 2006 as a university transfer student. At ACC, I made the President’s Honors List and served as a student ambassador. Studying and operating a business at the same time could have been difficult, but the faculty really helped me build a strong foundation academically. I graduated and transferred to UNCG where I earned my bachelor’s in hospitality and tourism with a business minor. Today I emphasize to all my students to perform well academically as well as maintain strong physical skills.
After many roadblocks prevented me from completing my B.S. in Nursing, I found Alamance Community College. What a wonderful experience! From registration to finals and everywhere in-between, instructors assisted me whether I was in their class or not. In the Academic Skills Lab, I met tutors who were always eager to help. My ACC degree provided me with the education I needed to get a job at UNC Hospital Health Care System. I’ll graduate this spring from Winston-Salem State University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, opening the door to work on a master’s degree and the autonomy that brings. ACC gave me the education and confidence to pursue my next immediate step — a degree as a certified nurse anesthetist.
After working menial jobs in Pennsylvania since my teens, I knew better employment meant going to college. Always drawn to puzzles, Criminal Justice intrigued me and I mentored with a private investigator in North Carolina. But I realized working as a police officer was the better choice. Taking the Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program at Alamance Community College challenged me—8 to 6:30 five days a week—but the cadets became like family and we learned as a team. Before graduating, I was hired by the Burlington Police Department and started work upon receiving my certification. In fact, 18 of the 19 students found employment in law enforcement right away. ACC and its BLET program gave my life a new start in an exciting and important career.
As a busy mom, I found it harder and harder to go back to school to finish my college education. That’s why ACC’s Dental Assisting night program was the best choice for me. It allowed me to find a good balance between family and school, and really focus on my education. The coursework is challenging, and you’ve got to stay on top of your studies. But now I have a highly rewarding job at Integrative Family Dentistry in Mebane. I work with children, ease their anxieties, and help them maintain good dental health. Thanks to ACC, I’m doing exactly what I want in my life.
It wasn’t long ago that my husband and I were struggling financially and unsure what our next steps should be after he lost his job in New Orleans. Coming home to North Carolina and enrolling at ACC was a major turning point for both of us. My husband earned his GED and a new trade in machining. Culinary Arts was the path for me, allowing me to transition into the industry with confidence. My all-inclusive ACC education provided me with the skills necessary to transform from a cook to an entry-level pastry chef at Delancy’s in Burlington. Upon earning my degree this summer, I’ll be running the bakery department there. ACC has definitely been a major safety net and a stepping stone for me and my growing family.
ACC gave me the opportunity to explore and develop my artistic abilities as a student in the Advertising and Graphic Design program. In my final year there, I was honored to win blue ribbons in the college’s arts competition. One of my designs is visible from I-85 near the ACC exit — a building wrap for Horticulture’s hydroponic greenhouse. I came to ACC after spending my teen years in Pakistan with my family as Christian missionaries. My drawing skills grew there so it seemed natural to enter ACC’s graphic design program when I returned to the States. The instructors helped me to develop my technique and potential. Now I’m a production designer at Northstar Marketing in Burlington where I do everything from web design to brochures to billboards. ACC’s graphic design department was tremendous in helping me learn tools that I now use in my profession as I pursue my dreams.
Law enforcement is in my blood with family members preceding me in similar careers. At Alamance Community College, I took the basic law enforcement training class, or BLET. As a natural athlete, the physical training was easy. Academics was more challenging, but a law enforcement career requires hitting the books, too. And I enjoyed every bit of it. Teamwork among the cadets was like no other. If one struggled, we all studied together. Two months after BLET graduation, I was hired by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department. As a Deputy, I work at the county jail, process arrested individuals, serve warrants, and perform road patrol. My advice? Study hard and you will be rewarded throughout your career. I wouldn’t be where I am without ACC’s BLET.
CHERYL RIPPERTON RETTIE
When I enrolled at ACC in 2000, I was in my thirties with only a high school diploma, a great fear of college, and limited financial resources. I thrived under the tutelage of my accounting instructors and surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the subject. I maintained a 4.0 GPA for my entire two years at ACC and later graduated cum laude at UNC Chapel Hill. During my last semester at UNC, I worked part-time as a bookkeeper at a nonprofit, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Eight years later, I am the Financial Director there. ACC gave me a lifelong love of learning and the tools to succeed that I have carried forward to this day.
“After many years working in a textile plant, I made the jump to community college student at age 43. After I earned a degree in Medical Assisting and sent out fifty resumes, I was hired as a Certified Medical Assistant at Duke University Hospital. But I wasn’t satisfied. With the support of my employer, I returned to ACC for evening classes and graduated to become a Registered Nurse. Today I work as an Ambulatory Care Nurse II with the same doctor at Duke University Medical Center. I owe the majority of my success to ACC. I’m an example that you’re never too old to learn something new.”
Automotive Line Technician
After 29 years with Burlington Industries, I lost my job when the business moved overseas. My first thought of ‘Where do I go from here at my age?’ changed when financial aid provided my entry into the Automotive Systems Technology program at ACC. I had always tinkered with cars, but there I learned how to use computers in automotive diagnostics and much more about the industry. My degree qualified me to work as a Line Technician at Cox Toyota in Burlington. ACC taught me about modern automotive repair so I could start a new career.
Heating & Air Company Owner
Following my hitch in the Marines, I thought a career in textiles was my future. The highs and lows of the economy convinced me otherwise. While still working by day, I enrolled in ACC’s Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration evening program. When my employer shut down the plant where I was working, I used financial aid to continue full-time at ACC and earned my degree a year later. The program taught me a lot, not just heating and air skills but how to run a business. After working for others, I started my own business in 2008 in Burlington. I’m a firm believer that education is what you make of it.
Certified Nursing Assistant
I never dreamed I’d go back to school at age 48, but after more than 20 years as a horse trainer and instructor I needed a more stable career in the current economy. Following in my daughter’s footsteps, I enrolled in ACC’s Medical Assisting program where I was delighted to discover many classmates were close to my own age. Sure, it was a challenging two and a half years, but studying in a medical curriculum was an incredible education, and my degree opened the door to a job at Duke Medical Care in 2012. ACC was definitely a stepping stone for me and my family.
Auto Supply Store Manager
While a student at Southern Alamance High, I found my vocation when I took a two-year program in ACC’s Automotive Systems Technology. I had a 4.0 GPA by the time I earned my associate degree. I chose to follow a career path where I can help customers decipher problems with their car engines. At Auto Supply Inc. in Burlington, I work as a store manager. I’ve earned my co-workers’ respect in this male-dominated industry by working hard. ACC gave me the skills and knowledge to enable me to do just about anything in the automotive industry.
Coming from the little town of Hurdle Mills, NC I started my time at Alamance Community College as a dual-enrollment high school student. The time I spent at ACC was a time of learning, a time of encouragement, and it’s where I developed a love for learning that I carry with me to this day. While enrolled in ACC’s University Transfer program, I served as a student ambassador and was named to The President’s List honor roll. One of the feelings I took from my time at ACC was an intense focus on being the best that I could be. I felt that from the students, the faculty, and the staff. After further studies at UNC Chapel Hill, I left North Carolina in 2005 to pursue my dream career in Los Angeles. It took a while, but today I am a self-employed stunt double and stunt coordinator in feature films. I have more than 50 credits which include stunt double for actor Chris Evans in the Captain America films, and stunt coordinator for The Hunger Games film franchise. Alamance Community College was a great place for a young man like myself to develop skills that would lead me down the career path that I’m on right now working as a stuntman in Hollywood.
2014 Computer-Integrated Machining Graduate
Going to school to find a new career was not on my agenda three years ago–not until the rocky economy hit my family hard and I was laid off twice in ten months from two different companies. I wanted to go back to school but wasn’t sure how to go about it. JobLink at the Employment Security Commission steered me in the right direction, helping me get a Workforce Investment Act scholarship so I could study machining at ACC. In my second semester, I went to ACC’s job fair and talked to a rep from a machining company. Two weeks later, I was hired full-time as a machine operator while I continued my education. I’ve now earned my associate’s degree and have a good job. ACC made the difference in putting my life on a new path.
Before I came to ACC, my life was a see-saw of good and bad decisions. When I got out of high school in 1992, I joined the army and served overseas. But after discharge, I found myself working one dead end, low-paying job after another. I came to Alamance Community College not only to provide for my son and become a role model, but to become the leader I was trained to be while in the military. Medical Assisting seemed a good fit because I’ve seen lots of people struggle and feel like there’s no way out of their situation. What I’m learning here will give me job security at the same time I’m helping others. This is new water for me. But I’m getting closer all the time to my goal of a career in urgent care or a family practice. Here’s what I know: if this 41-year-old can do it, anybody can.
I graduated from ACC’s Dental Assisting program in May 2015, but I came to campus the next fall to take a few more classes for a very good reason. I am the recipient of an American Dental Association Foundation Scholarship to assist my pursuit of becoming a dentist. With that goal ahead of me, I stayed at ACC to complete several prerequisites—including physics and organic chemistry—that I need for acceptance to dental school. My department head, Janelle Christopher, and other members of the faculty had encouraged me all of my second year to pursue dental school. I’m fortunate to have caught the attention of two local dentists, who coordinated my attendance at a dental school camp at East Carolina University in the summer. One dentist is now my mentor, and has introduced me to various dental organizations, and will help guide me through dental school. With their help, I plan to enroll in East Carolina University’s dental school by fall 2017.
Career and College Promise student
As a self-starter with multiple academic interests, homeschooling has been a great experience for me. And so has the Career and College Promise program at Alamance Community College. Tuition is free and I’m earning advanced high school credentials and a certificate in Web Technologies—it’s like double-dipping to further your academic experience. ACC’s online instructors are great to work with and the whole experience has really boosted my confidence. I even made the Dean’s List for part-time students. I’m only 17, but ACC has given me a great opportunity to get ahead.
Career & College Promise
For me, my experience at ACC has come full circle. I started as a toddler in the campus child care center when my mom—today an ACC math instructor—was studying there. It was through her that I learned about Career and College Promise which allows any junior or senior to earn tuition-free college credits while earning their high school diploma. I just worked out my schedule at Southern Alamance so I could come to ACC each afternoon for classes. College classes challenge me and I really like taking classes with people of all ages at ACC. Now I’m heading to UNC Chapel Hill this fall with 33 transfer credits so I can focus on my journalism major.
Career & College Promise Student
“As a homeschooled high school student, I learned the discipline necessary to succeed in the college courses offered at ACC. Because ACC offers many courses at various times of the day, I am able to choose classes that work with my personal schedule. Being in class with older students has matured me and broadened my experience. As a participant in the Career & College Promise program, I’m simultaneously earning my high school diploma and an associate’s degree with 64 credit hours — all of which will transfer to East Carolina this fall where I’ll begin as a junior. ACC has been very good for me and has allowed me to get ahead on my college education.”
Career & College Promise/Middle College Student
I found success as a student in the Alamance-Burlington Schools’ Middle College on the campus of Alamance Community College. Each day while taking my regular high school classes, I also worked toward an associate in arts degree that gave me more than 60 credit hours to transfer to a four-year university. I graduated with both my high school diploma and an associate’s degree in May 2015. It’s all part of ACC’s Career and College Promise program. The faculty and staff were really great, giving me personal attention. It was like getting a private school education for free.
“I worked in radio for three decades but my real aspiration was to manage entertainment venues. When an opportunity to do just that presented itself two years ago, I saw it as the perfect fit due to my marketing skills and passion for theatre. What I didn’t have was a college degree, a requirement for such a career. That’s when I told myself I was going to college. Luckily my longtime work ethic makes juggling family, work, school and an occasional stage role just part of the challenge. With a 4.0 GPA, I’m graduating this spring and transferring to UNCG to earn a B.A. in Business Management. At 49, I know I must exceed expectations, be at the top of my game, and set an example for my son that hard work, multi-tasking and time management will result in being a top-grade student.”
“As a single mom, I wanted to show my daughter that it’s important to seek out opportunities you may otherwise never have. Earning my GED from Alamance Community College led me to enroll in the Horticulture Technology program. But hitting the books was only part of it. I immersed myself in community service projects and made the most of my time at ACC. Earning my degree gave me a lifetime of resources and knowledge to keep me at the top of the game in the horticultural world. That’s why 2014 marks my third year working as an Assistant Horticulturist at Duke University where I’m involved in developing a non-chemical approach to pest control and working with one of the biggest research labs in RTP. Life doesn’t always fall into your lap. ACC helped me discover my potential and how to stay motivated to reach my goals.”
Career & College Promise Student
“My career goal to become a law enforcement officer got off to a good start when I took criminal justice classes at Alamance Community College as part of the Career and College Promise (CCP) program. Even while still earning my high school diploma as a home schooled student, ACC provided me an opportunity to earn college credits like Criminal Law, Ethics, and General Psychology toward my associate’s degree. It’s a great feeling to know I’m earning tuition-free college credits, a degree, and my high school diploma—making me more than ready to transfer into a four-year university and pursue my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. CCP is a great option to get ahead in college while still a high school student.”