Monthly Archives: May 2018

Graduates look forward to their futures as Durham Tech marks its 2018 spring commencement

As Theresa Holmes walked the stage of the Durham Performing Arts Center on Monday, she was already thinking about her next step.

Holmes joined more than 250 students to graduate during the 2018 Spring Commencement this week. The 55-year-old grandmother earned an Associate in Applied Science Degree and certificates from the Paralegal Technology program.

But her mind was on her interview at a law firm later in the week.

“It’s the end of a season and the start of a new one, and I’m ready for it,” she said as she stood in the line of mortarboards and tassels waiting to enter the auditorium. “I’ve had a lot of support from Durham Tech, and I’m going to miss many people.”

Hundreds walked – in some cases danced – across the stage with smiles on their faces and exited with degrees, diplomas, or certificates in hand.

“My family and friends have been through so much with me, and I’m just so proud to get to share this moment with them,” said Jamison McLean, who graduated with an Associate in Arts degree. “Durham Tech has helped me reach my dreams, and I’m going to the school that I set out to get into when I started, UNC-Chapel Hill. … I’m just so excited to close this chapter of my life but also to open a new chapter.”

Aja Binta Touray, 28, also was thinking about her new chapter.

The 38-week pregnant Touray was graduating with a diploma from the Licensed Practical Nursing program.

“It’s very important to me,” she said as she stood in line sporting bright yellow flats. “I want my son to know I made it despite everything. I made it because of my husband and my mom.”

Once her child is born, Touray said she wants to pursue a job as a registered nurse.

Touray wasn’t the only soon-to-be graduate who was thinking of family Monday night.

Around seven years ago, Molly Fahey watched her newborn son fight heart failure in the pediatric intensive care unit at Duke Health. Witnessing how the respiratory therapists helped to save her son’s life compelled Fahey to study respiratory therapy at Durham Tech.

She graduated with an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Respiratory Therapy.

“I’m really excited and really looking forward to moving on,” Fahey said before the ceremony. The graduate added that she expects to begin her new job in Duke Hospital’s pediatrics department in July.

Both of Fahey’s sons were among her family and friends who attended the event.

After the processional of faculty and graduates, the Rev. Lori Pistor of Presbyterian Church USA gave the invocation, and Durham Tech President Bill Ingram and John Burness, Chair of the Durham Tech Board of Trustees, welcomed the attendees.

“For more than 57 years, Durham Tech has served as a place where residents of our community can forge great futures,” Ingram said. “So congratulations … to all (the) students who will walk across the stage tonight, joining thousands of Durham Tech alumni who do great things for themselves and their families, our community, the nation, and the world. We are proud of your accomplishments.”

The night’s guest speaker, Dr. Phail Wynn Jr., appeared after Ingram. Wynn is a Durham Tech President Emeritus and is currently the Vice President of Durham and Regional Affairs at Duke University, a position from which he will retire in June.

“I spent 30 years and six months of my professional career at Durham Tech, and as president emeritus, I remain a proud member of the Durham Tech family,” Wynn said to the audience.

“To all the graduates that are being honored tonight, I’m certainly pleased to extend warm congratulations to you. It is always pleasing to me to acknowledge educational achievement because it implies sacrifice and motivation. You dedicated yourselves to increase your opportunities for professional and personal development, and you have succeeded in these endeavors marvelously.”

Article by Stephanie Turner

To see more photos from commencement, visit our Facebook page.

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Durham Tech Foundation receives $16,000 in scholarships for students of Mexican heritage

The General Consulate of Mexico in Raleigh recently granted $16,000 in scholarships for Mexican students and students of Mexican descent to the Durham Technical Community College Foundation.

The General Consulate of Mexico in Raleigh has partnered with Durham Tech since 2015 to help support the educational goals of the College’s studentsThe scholarships that are funded through the grant help top-performing, low-income students attend college and achieve their academic and career goals. They will cover the recipients’ tuition, books, and fees for the 2019 academic year. This grant also will be matched dollar-for-dollar by institutional scholarship funds.

Interested Durham Tech students must meet the scholarship criteria, and the ones who are eligible can apply through the Durham Tech Foundation. Scholarships will be advertised in collaboration with the Center for the Global Learner.

The Center for the Global Learner supports academic programs, including: English as a Second Language (ESL); Translation/Interpretation Programs; English for Academic Purposes (EFL); Study Abroad; Latino and Political Refugee Student Outreach, Support, and Transitions; and Student Services for undocumented students, DACA students, and students on visas.

“The General Consulate of Mexico has been a dedicated supporter of the College and our students,” said Dr. Constanza Gómez-Joines, Assistant Vice President and Executive Director of the Center for the Global Learner. “Their commitment to our students and their success has provided life-changing opportunities to a vulnerable population of students. We are extremely grateful for their continued support.”

For more information about Durham Tech and the programs available, visit

To learn about the work and charitable endeavors of the General Consulate of Mexico in Raleigh, visit

The Durham Tech Foundation is a charitable organization that promotes the current and long-term success of Durham Tech by inspiring charitable investment in its students, faculty, and staff.

Durham Tech student interns in Thailand for public health

Jonitka Hall spent 11 hours on a Megabus, 44 hours in the air, and eight hours in airports to and from Thailand for her spring internship.

“I was super excited, but I was nervous for my family,” Hall said. “I didn’t tell my mom until my Visa was approved and I had my plane ticket.”

Hall, 29, spent eight weeks in Bangkok, Thailand for a public health internship during spring semester.

“I have a regret from the first time I was in undergraduate school of not studying abroad,” Hall said. “So I thought, let me see if I can study abroad now. I went to Heidi White’s office, asked her what my options were and figured out I had enough in savings and paid time off at my job to be gone for eight weeks so that’s what I did.”

In December 2017, Hall completed all credits for her Associate in Science degree at Durham Tech, but knew she could not start her bachelors program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro until August 2018.

“When I completed all of my credits in December I wondered what I would do during spring semester,” Hall said. “Then I decided I would intern.”

Heidi White, Director of International Student Services and Study Abroad at Durham Tech, connected Hall with World Endeavors, an organization that offers international internships and affordable study abroad opportunities.

She also worked alongside Kara Battle, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at Durham Tech, to find out she could enroll in a Work-Based Learning course to earn credit for the internship.

“Work-based learning opportunities are invaluable experiences for students,” Battle said. “Especially for career development and exposing them to meaningful opportunities in real-life work settings where they can apply their academic and technical skills and develop employability skills.”

Hall aspires to be an epidemiologist, a public health professional that studies the origin of disease. During the internship, she worked at two public health centers through the Thai Government, conducted community visits, went to patient’s homes with doctors, went into schools to teach heath education, and completed clinic hours observing doctors and nurses.

“I really enjoyed getting to see a different health care system,” Hall said. “The liability insurance in Thailand isn’t as strict as it is in America so I was able to do more hands-on work and see patient’s records more than I would have in the US.”

She said this experience will be a significant résumé booster.

“It’s important that Durham Tech offers opportunities like this because we live in a very global economy and getting this experience helps get your foot in the door,” Hall said. “One of the great things about Durham Tech is that it really prepares you for a career.”

Hall encourages others students who are interested in studying abroad to make it happen.

“Apply for scholarship and ask questions,” Hall said of her advice to other students. “This is worth the investment. I am not special. I just made the choice to do it. There are people at Durham Tech that will help you get it done.”

When she wasn’t working, Hall said she enjoyed spending time with her host family, experiencing Thai food, and visiting with elephants.

“I was a college dropout,” Hall said. “I went to school and didn’t finish and when I decided to go back, Durham Tech was my safety net and saving grace. They helped get me back on track and on the path to my career. This experience will be my best résumé builder and has helped me become a more well-rounded person.”

Gamma Beta Phi awarded most community service hours

(l to r) Dr. Bill Ingram, Don Sommerfeldt, Kim Green, Chris McDuff, Emilia Arrington, Kim Boyce

For the second time in three years, Gamma Beta Phi Honorary Society has been awarded Most Community Service Hours by a large organization at Durham Tech. Gamma Beta Phi is an honorary student organization that focuses on educational and community service. The objective of the Society is to recognize and encourage excellence in education, to promote the development of leadership ability and character in its members, and to foster, disseminate, and improve education through service projects.

This past year, the club was involved with the following community projects:

  • Durham Rescue Mission Clothes Drive
  • Book Harvest of Durham
  • Durham Tech Food Pantry
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Town of Carrboro Parks & Recs
  • Riverside Soccer Tournament
  • Community Service at Iglesia Hispana
  • Women’s Health Awareness Day
  • Parkwood Community Garden
  • Meals On Wheels
  • NC Therapeutic Riding Center
  • Walk to End Lupus Now
  • NCCU International Night
  • Note in the Pocket
  • Heritage Community Event
  • Rock-and-Roll Marathon
  • Ruritan Club
  • Pie Day Pi K Race

Kim Green, a member of Gamma Beta Phi, received the award for most service hours by an individual and honored by the Durham Tech Student Government and Durham Tech Center for College and Community Service.

“I am very proud chapter president and even more honored to count this person as a close friend and confidant,” said Chris McDuff, President of Gamma Beta Phi at Durham Tech. “I appreciate all of Kim’s hard work, dedication, compassion, and commitment to community and service. I want to thank all members who contributed to helping our club achieve this honor of most service hours. I truly could not be more humbled by your commitment to service and community.”

“Our members do amazing things,” said Don Sommerfeldt, “They are students. Many work full or part time, take care of families, and yet still find time to do community service work. They want to help others for the greater cause. I tip my hat to these wonderful students. They do great things.”

Umberger completes statewide leadership program, named co-director

l to r: Sandy Peabody (NCCCLP), Gilbert Umberger, Dr. Pat Akers (Director, NCCCLP)

Gilbert Umberger, Student Activities Coordinator at Durham Tech, graduated from the 29th class of the North Carolina Community College Leadership Program on April 27 at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center.

During the ceremony, it was also announced that Umberger was named co-director of the 2018-19 Leadership Program. Umberger’s commitment is for three years, which will include him serving as co-director, director, and as a member of the Executive Board.

The seven-month leadership program offers participants face-to-face and computer-based learning experiences to acquaint them with community college issues and help them develop leadership skills. The program is highly experiential in nature, and participants work in teams to create an ideal community college. Upon completion, participants develop and enhance essential skills to support their current and future leadership roles in the North Carolina Community College System.

Let’s celebrate May anniversaries and birthdays!

May Anniversaries (Years)
Gregory Mimmack (19); Julie Humphrey (16); David Long (11); Donna Alston (11); Angela Breault (11); Norb Golebiewski (9); Wallace Blackwelder (6); Ludwig Stuart (6); Shana Curl (6); Jennifer Bennett (6); Burnice Parker (6); Theresa McLaurin (5); Abe Dones (4); Audrey Muhammad (4); Justin Long (3); Nathan Hardin (3); Sasha Afanador (2); Liza Nordstrom (2); Michael Bellardini (2); Melanie Riester (1)

May Birthdays (Day)
Oluwunmi Ariyo (3); Patrick Coin (5); Kurt Laudicina (8); Brenda East (8); Janet Alspaugh (9); Valarie Hines (9); Gilbert Umberger (11); Andrei George (11); Susan Baker (12); Sandra Grady (12); Tom Jaynes (14); Randy Egsegian (15); Greg Walton (15); Karen McPhaul (18); Virgil Malone (19); Cathy Collie-Robinson (19); Cynthia Davis (19); Elizabeth Payne (19); Adam Foster (21); Abe Dones (22); Patrick Hines (23); Quincy Wright (23); O’Keishe Wright (23); Marcy Wynn (23); Karen Mosley-Lyon (26); Rex Horton (26); Adria Kinney (26); Valerie Whitley (27); Gwendolyn Troy-Mckinney (27); Leah Tilden (28); Charles Farrow (30); Arlene Lyons-Daniels (30); Jessica Orio (31); Michael Reese (31)

Durham Tech student earns prestigious Park Scholarship, headed to NC State

Grace Baucom and her dad were attending a study abroad information session in the Talley Student Union on NC State’s campus when she got the call.

“I was crying, it was unbelievable,” said 18-year-old Baucom, a student at Durham Tech. “My dad and I were absolutely freaking out.”

A representative from NC State’s Park Scholarship Program was on the other end, congratulating Baucom for becoming one of only 35 recipients of the prestigious, four-year scholarship. The Park Scholarship is awarded on the basis of outstanding accomplishments and potential in scholarship, leadership, service and character.

“We had to run and find a room to FaceTime my mom and little sister. My family and I really went through this together, so it was a journey for all of us,” Baucom said. “We were all crying. It was so special.”

Baucom will graduate in May 2018 with both a high school diploma from Middle College High School at Durham Tech and an Associate in Science degree from Durham Tech. Middle College High School is a high school within Durham Public Schools that provides students with an opportunity to simultaneously earn high school and college credits.

“I’ve always been very intentional about my education decisions and where I want to go, so when I found out about Middle College, I was excited about the opportunity to challenge myself with college classes,” Baucom said. “Durham Tech has really been a launch pad for me. It taught me how to be a college student, be proactive, take initiative, be independent, and take pride in my choices. Taking almost exclusively college classes was an adjustment, but I’m excited to have gotten a head start on those learning skills and be able to dive in at NC State.”

NC State and the Park Scholarship have been a top college choice for Baucom since she attended a two-day leadership conference at the Raleigh campus in the 9th grade.

“I absolutely loved the experience. We did workshops on leadership, communication and professionalism while simultaneously working in small groups to create prototypes of service projects to implement in our community,” Baucom said. “It was really a taste of what the Park Scholarship is all about. It was love at first sight.”

Baucom started the application process in September 2017. Her phone rang inside Talley Student Union in February.

Baucom will double major in Agroecology and Extension Education while attending NC State and is keeping her career options open. She’s considering becoming an Extension Agent through NC Cooperative Extension, an Education Outreach Coordinator with a non-profit organization, or possibly owning her own farm that is environmentally and educationally focused.

“I’m very interested in all things sustainability,” Baucom said. “But my passion is sustainable agriculture, which combines my love for the environment and my interest in making the world a greener place. Sharing my love for a green earth and making sure everyone has access to healthy food is what it’s all about for me.”

Baucom says her motivation stems from her desire to make the world a better place.

“My life’s theme is service. I love to volunteer and give back, it’s defined my high school experience and my life,” Baucom said. “Helping others is really who I am. I also think about the bigger purpose. It’s not just about getting an A in the class, but think about what it’s teaching you and how that can be applied later. Not just be a president of a club, but be a good leader and use those skills to make a positive impact in the community.”