Monthly Archives: October 2017

Durham Tech marketing department wins top regional print advertising award

The Durham Tech Marketing and Communications Department took the top prize for Print Advertisement in a regional competition with peer institutions this week.

The submission took Gold place in the 2017 Medallion Awards District 2 competition, which included multiple states in the southeastern United States. The competition is organized through the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations.

The advertisement featured photography by Director of Marketing and Communications Nathan Hardin and design work by Production Manager Heather Remley. The submission promoted the College and the Durham Tech Foundation’s impact at home and abroad, and highlighted Durham Tech Student Mekenzie Keese during a Center for the Global Learner trip to Ghana in March.

The advertisement was published in the June/July issue of Durham Magazine this year.

Following Durham Tech in the Print Advertisement category was Wake Technical Community College in second and Wallace State Community College (Ala.) in third.

It was the College’s second Medallion Award win in two years. Hardin won third place in 2016 for Feature Writing for a series on Durham Tech students’ trip to Cuba.

Dental Lab Technology program at Durham Tech receives top ranking

Dental lab technology is the art of designing and fabricating artificial dental prostheses such as crowns and bridges, and at Durham Tech, it is the top performing program of its kind in the country, according to a national accrediting organization.

Earlier this month, the National Association of Dental Laboratories and the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology announced that the program at Durham Tech is ranked No. 1 among all 14 accredited dental lab programs in the U.S. in performance on the Recognized Graduate Examination.

“Enthusiastic and dedicated faculty, innovative curriculum, current technology, and engaged students are the perfect combination to achieve that No. 1 ranking,” said Melissa Ockert, Dean and Department Head of Health Technologies at Durham Tech. “Not only did the students achieve this score but they did so on a new, revised, more difficult exam.”

According to the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology, students who graduate from an accredited program and pass the examination are considered Recognized Graduates. The examination requires graduates demonstrate significant mastery of the knowledge needed in dental technology.

“I believe this sets a standard in teaching that we will continue to hold ourselves to and maintain with future classes,” said Erin Popov, Clinical Coordinator and Instructor in the Dental Lab Technology program. “We hope to showcase the dental laboratory technology field as a top choice when going into the dental professions, alongside dental hygiene and assisting.”

Durham Tech students’ average score on the Recognized Graduate Examination was 79.38 percent, which is 11.24 percent higher than the national average and earned the College a No. 1 ranking, an improvement from No. 5 in past years.

“Our advisory board played a large part in this ranking,” said Greg Walton, Director and Instructor in the Dental Lab Technology program. “We listened and applied input from current professionals. Incorporating industry needs, observations, and modern technology prepare our graduates for outstanding careers.

The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology is an independent board founded by the National Association of Dental Laboratories. It serves as an independent certification organization dedicated to improving the quality of dental laboratory technology through voluntary testing and certification of dental laboratories and technicians.

The Dental Laboratory Technology program has been offered at Durham Tech since its inception in 1961 and it is the only accredited program in surrounding states.

Durham Tech receives grant to support food insecure students

The Durham Tech Campus Harvest Food Pantry has grown significantly from its single shelf operation in 2013 to now serving more than 500 students annually with over 28,000 pounds of food.

Last month, the Durham Tech Foundation received a $5,000 grant from Publix Super Markets Charities, which will support the College’s efforts to provide sustainable, healthy options to students in need. Funds will purchase food pantry supplies for food insecure students allowing them to focus on their educational goals.

The food pantry serves the campus as part of the College’s commitment to student persistence and success, said Erin Riney, Director of the Center for College and Community Service.

“Students have difficulty being successful if they are skipping meals or worrying about where their next meal is coming from.  We’re so thankful that Publix recognizes how critical our pantry services are for the more than 500 students we serve each year,” Riney said. “This grant will allow the school to maintain a steady supply of produce and healthy food options for the school year.”

Publix has a longstanding tradition of supporting community needs with special focus on youth, education, reducing hunger, and alleviating homelessness. The College is honored to partner with Publix to serve students in Durham and Orange counties by reducing hunger on campus.

The College partners with local food banks and community groups, as well as hosts annual student food drives, and organizes monthly employee sponsorships to support needs on campus. The pantry seeks to educate and empower students on healthy, nutritional meal preparation in addition to providing resources and support when needed.  The food pantry also serves shoppers’ family members, housemates, and children.

If you are interested in volunteering at the food pantry or other volunteer opportunities at Durham Tech, please contact Jes Dormady 919-536-7200, ext. 8194 or

Durham Tech students serve on the wild side, help animal rescue organizations

Shawn Hewitt pets a rescued sheep named Luther at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge.

It was an early morning on Hux Family Farm when 15 Durham Tech students rolled out their yoga mats, extended their hands to the sky, and mindfully breathed their way into sun salutation poses – with the occasional cuddle from a furry friend.

“A goat fell asleep on top of me. I never thought that would happen to me in my life,” said 22-year-old Zhane Strachan.

Goat yoga kicked off Durham Tech students’ first overnight Alternative Service Break trip to serve animal rescue organizations in Pittsboro.

For three days during fall break, students helped improve the quality of life of rescue animals like Coconut, a visually impaired sheep that resides at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, and Sage, a calico cat at The Goathouse Refuge awaiting her day to be adopted.

“Students have been asking for animal-related service opportunities for the past couple of years,” said Jes Dormady, Volunteer Services Coordinator at the Center for College and Community Service at Durham Tech. “For our very first overnight trip, we wanted something that had a strong student buy-in and I knew there was a desire to work with animals.”

Rajah at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

The first stop was Carolina Tiger Rescue, where students were scheduled to prep the facility for winter. Severe weather slowed the volunteers, but students enjoyed a brief tour and said the takeaway was significant.

“This trip has given me a new perspective,” said Shawn Hewitt, 22. “Everyone wants a cool animal, but there’s a difference between the needs of a person and the needs of a living thing. Sure you want a tiger, but you can’t care for a tiger. There’s a line you have to draw.”

The next day was spent at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, a sanctuary for rescued farm animals to live out their full lives in a safe place. Students spent two hours creating space for a herd of rescued goats to graze by removing overgrown brush and weeds.

Lenore Braford, Founder and Shelter Manager at the refuge, said she was grateful for the students’ help.

“We love when groups like this come out to volunteer because we’re excited about making connections in our community and having diverse groups of people come out to farm,” Braford said. “It’s a great opportunity to get larger projects done that we can’t do on our own.”

“My cats came from here so it’s important for me to be able to give back because they did so much for me,” Cantwell said. “I think service should be a part of what everybody does. This trip is a great opportunity for us to provide services for others, which is really empowering.”

After the volunteer shifts, students spent their evenings at Camp Royall participating in team building exercises, reflection activities and of course – campfires.

“This trip was a great way to meet other students at Durham Tech and broaden my circle of friends, which is awesome,” said Cedric Ngbichi, 21. “I’m so happy I did this.”

Getting to know the students and learning their interests and stories has been Cantwell’s favorite part of the trip.

Mari-Faythe Myers removes overgrown weeds from the goat pasture at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge.

“These students are really fascinating,” Cantwell said. “I would have thought there’d be a certain type of student to want to do an activity like this, but these students are so different from each other. They’re coming here from different places, with different attitudes and what they want to get out of it is different as well.”

Dormady said it’s important to make these opportunities available at a community college.

“Since we don’t have dorms, this was a great overnight experience for students to bond,” Dormady said. “I’m pretty sure students are leaving here with a lot of new friends. For some students this is there first opportunity volunteering so this also serves as a gateway to larger civic duties and community engagement.”

For many students, this service trip played a role in helping them decide their career pathway.

“I wanted to come on this trip because I plan on doing something with animals in the future,” said Mari-Faythe Myers, 20. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door and scope everything out to see where I could get an internship or where I could volunteer to gain experience. I now have a better idea of what I want to do with my life and I definitely want to help animals.”

Hewitt is thankful the College offered this volunteer opportunity and his greatest takeaway goes beyond the animals.

“I think it’s important for Durham Tech to provide opportunities like this for holistic development,” Hewitt said. “I think volunteer service encompasses everything that you’re going to encounter in life. Whether it’s planning the trip or leading the team, I think Durham Tech does a good job at providing these opportunities for holistic growth.”

The Center for College and Community Service at Durham Tech will host another Alternative Service Break opportunity during the 2018 spring semester. If you’re interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities available at Durham Tech, please contact Jes Dormady 919-536-7200, ext. 8194 or


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Brown credits Durham Tech as catalyst to success, passion for service

When Zamir Brown enrolled at Durham Tech in 2012, he struggled with generalized anxiety, which made it difficult to make connections with his classmates and instructors. He recognized its effects early on and decided to no longer let it hold him back.

“We can craft ourselves to be the person that we want to be and I learned that at Durham Tech,” Brown said. “I had no communication skills. I did not know what it was to be a leader or how to work as a team. But by exposing myself to different opportunities at Durham Tech, I was able to craft myself toward the person I wanted to be.”

Brown got involved on campus to help cope with his anxiety. He started working at the bookstore and student call center in addition to joining the Student Senate, Safety Committee, and Gamma Beta Phi.

“My time at Durham Tech was a springboard,” Brown said. “I still had anxiety, but by volunteering and participating in campus activities, I learned active skills to cope with it. It was not easy. It took time and constant exposure.”

Brown enrolled at the College because it offered the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), which creates a pathway for students to enroll in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after successfully completing their associate degree at Durham Tech.

“I saw Durham Tech as a good opportunity to get my feet wet and I wanted to have an opportunity to go to UNC,” Brown said. “It really allowed me the opportunity to not be overwhelmed the first two years of undergrad and still learn what study habits are good for me.”

His initial plans were to major in physical therapy, but advice from Mary Marsha Cupitt, former Advising Coordinator in the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer department at Durham Tech, changed his trajectory.

“She pushed me to do more than I would have otherwise,” Brown said. “She told me there was a track for transferring to UNC for physical therapy, but she wanted me to take the harder classes. She wanted me to do more than just enough and said it was better to set the bar high and be more than qualified than to have exactly what is needed.”

Brown changed his program of study to an Associate in Science on a pre-med track and later earned a bachelor’s in medical anthropology at UNC.

In addition to finding his career path, Brown credits Durham Tech for helping him recognize the importance of service and giving back, a critical part of his life today.

“You have to participate in the community because if you’re able to provide and give back to the community then the community will provide and give back to you. It will serve as a safety net.” Brown said of his advice to future students. “That safety net I started to develop at Durham Tech has really formed my understanding of how things work and how important community is in providing health for populations.”

After graduating from UNC last year, Brown, 24, moved to Kenmore, Washington to attend Bastyr University where he is now pursuing a master’s degree in public health and last month, was notified that he’d be receiving the Les Griffith, ND, Student Award, the highest student award given at Bastyr. After he graduates in 2019, his greatest aspiration is to start or participate in a nonprofit that is dedicated to community building in marginalized communities of color.

“I feel like Durham Tech was the catalyst to a lot of the success I’ve had academically in recent years,” Brown said. “Even getting this award now, shows the seeds I planted when I graduated from Durham Tech have sprouted and begun to forge in a way I wished and hoped they would so many years ago.”

Durham Tech employees complete global competence training

Nearly 20 Durham Tech employees successfully completed “Global Competence for Education Professionals” training taught by Katherine Turner, president of Global Citizen, on September 22 and 29 in the Teaching-Learning Center. Global competence, or intercultural competence, is the knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviors necessary to effectively communicate and interact with people from all countries, cultures, and backgrounds.

The training featured engaging activities and discussions of race, privilege, equity, and cultural humility. Participants also learned about the global competence framework, which includes awareness, understanding, sensitivity, and ethical practice. Additionally, participants considered strategies they could use to increase their own global competence and Durham Tech’s efforts to prepare students for a global world.

The following employees successfully completed the eight-hour training: Georgia Betcher, Lisa Blair, Stephen Brooks, Tina Bryant-Allen, Kim Chandler, Marina DelVecchio, Mauricio Garcia-Vargas, Connie Gomez-Joines, Wilma Herndon, Julie Humphrey, Suzi Jaikaran, Pam Krakow, Chellie LaPointe, Lance Lee, Gabby McCutchen, Margaret Memory, Gina Perryman, and Paula Wilder.

For more information about upcoming professional development activities available in the TLC, see the TLC Calendar of Events.

Culinary program brings value as Durham food scene heats up

Culinary students gather around Chef Betty as she teaches them how to make a penguin garnish.

Durham Tech culinary students watched as Chef Betty Redwood carefully pieced together an olive, carrot, mozzarella slice, and toothpick into the shape of a penguin.

It was garnishing day – and students were excited to make their first penguin.

It was the second night in the kitchen for students in the Culinary Arts Career Training Program and Chef Betty’s food art offered a taste of what is to come during the four-month program.

“I love watching the students come in on the first day,” Redwood said. “They’re not always sure where they want to go in culinary, but by the end of the program they know exactly what they want. Like garnishing, not everyone is good with this, but one of them is going to find their niche.”

For Khadijah Anderson, 29, the dream is to open her own Caribbean food truck.

“I’ve always wanted to start my own business and this program will give me the tools I need to build the foundation of my future,” Anderson said. “I want to brush up on my culinary skills, get certified, and learn about sanitation and safety for my business.”

For Joshua Byker, 21, the culinary dream will start in Durham. Byker’s family is opening a new tea house in town and asked him to serve as the manager before he moves to Boston to open his own restaurant.

“I’ve been cooking since I was six years old so this is all I know,” Byker said. “I took cooking too seriously before. It was always just a career, but because of my experience in this program it has become more of a passion. My classmates are great, they’re so positive and we treat each other like family.”

Four days per week, three and half hours per night, students split their time between the classroom and the kitchen. In addition to safety and sanitation, the program provides students with opportunities for culinary training, traveling to local culinary establishments, networking with food service professionals, and attending entrepreneurship seminars.

As Durham’s culinary scene reaches nearly 800 restaurants, the need for the program grows.

“Many hiring managers are not concerned if a student went to an expensive culinary school,” Redwood said. “They are more interested in applicants that have the skills and knowledge to get the job done. This is why a large percentage of our students are working in the industry. We focus on teaching them the same skills needed to get the job. This program makes them employable.”

Shanda Alston, owner of Cake Royalty of Durham, completed the Culinary Arts Career Training Program in Spring 2016.

“Working in a professional kitchen was definitely a highlight of the program,” Alston said. “We worked in teams, which prepared us for the real world of culinary arts in a professional environment.”

Alston has been creating custom cakes since 2013 and credits the program with improving her business.

“The program wasn’t simply focused on culinary techniques,” Alston said. “We also focused on business, such as licensing, marketing, and branding. Even during the program, I found myself reworking my entire business model.”

Though students have different interests within culinary, they agree on one thing: Chef Betty adds a dash of something special to the program.

“Chef Betty is such an inspiration,” Alston said. “She often spoke of her business experiences and gave students important do’s and don’ts of the industry. She is patient, encouraging, and all I could’ve hoped for in an instructor. She definitely knows her way around a professional kitchen.”

Chef Betty has taught the program since February 2010 and loves every minute, she said.

“Most students that come here have a love for culinary and it’s fun to watch it come out of them,” Redwood said. “Some students come back to me and have started businesses, food trucks or catering businesses, which has helped increase Durham’s booming food scene. It’s great to watch them build their own business or get the job they want.”

For more information about the Culinary Arts Career Training Program and other continuing education classes at Durham Tech, click here.

Joshua Byker and Sharonda McNeill work together to create a garnish garden.


Let’s celebrate October anniversaries and birthdays!

October Anniversaries (Years)

Charlene West (28); Karin Abell (17); Rebekah Roehrs (16); Darlene Covington-Brown (14); Sandra Grady (13); Dwight Williams (12); Wayne Greenhill (11); Annette Phillips (10); Craig Smith (8); Patricia Gould (7); Douglas Aitkin (6); Stesha Little (5); Janette Montalvo (5); Candace Rashada (4); Yasmeen Haque (3); Janet Alspaugh (2); Patricia Pendergrass (2); Tyesha Arnold (2); Michelle Laporte (2); Horace Holloway (2); Susan Paris (2); Michelle Everest (1); Kathryn Rexrode (1); Gwendolyn Troy-Mckinney (1);

October Birthdays (Day)

Micara Sessoms (1); Earl Stenlund (2); Jerry Oxendine (3); Justin Gray (3); Annette Phillips (7); Courtney Bippley (8); Linda Hall (8); Oliver Just (9); Jamaal Walker (10); Annie Gill (10); Rita Best (11); Michelle Everest (12); Kerry Cantwell (12); Rebecca McClain (13); Angela Davis (13); Cecil Outlaw (15); Anne Harris (16); Gregory Mimmack (17); Edwin Smith (17); Jesse Urban (18); Nathan Hardin (21); Santosh Shonek (21); Janette Montalvo (21); Steven Leadon (22); Harriett Wagstaff (23); Norbert Golebiewski (23); Andrea Parrish (24); Lisa Inman (25); Willie Johnson (25); Kris Weberg (26); Danny Francis (26); Bernice Campbell (26); Andrew Teears (27); Julie Humphrey (27); Christopher Mansfield (27); Yasmeen Haque (28); Erica Taylor (31); Jennifer Bennett (31)

October Farewells

Durham Tech bids farewell and best wishes to the following employees:

Christian Austell – Landscaper, Facility Services
Kamala Uzzell – Assistant Dean, Student Development, Communications and Activities
Susan Sutton – Program Director/Instructor, Paralegal Technology
Greg Miller – Interim Director/Instructor, EMS