CPCC, Wray Ward Embark on Creative Project

Erik Spanberg
Senior Staff Writer-Charlotte Business Journal

Building buzz on social media, producing video vignettes and coining new catch-phrases. Few people think of such skills when it comes to community colleges and companies joining forces to train workers.

Central Piedmont Community College and Charlotte ad firm Wray Ward, the top-billing agency in the city, hope to make the notion commonplace.

Recent changes at the agency -- Rob Horton is the new VP of client engagement, and Aaron Thornton assumes creative director responsibilities -- have coincided with a campaign to attract more homegrown talent. Horton came from Cleveland and Thornton from Dallas, but part of Thornton's role involves ensuring interns dabble in writing, designing and producing digital content, among other things.

Wray Ward has 70 employees. Jennifer Appleby, agency president, has steered the firm to more regional and national accounts, emphasizing expertise with accounts tied to companies involved in home décor, including skylights, lighting, flooring and fabrics. Along the way, she noticed more competition for the creative workers all ad agencies crave.

Locally and regionally, agencies fight over small pools of prospective employees. Appleby, drawing on community connections with CPCC, mentioned the dilemma and, eventually, was surprised to hear from acquaintances at the college that students with skills aimed at creative industries can also be found at CPCC.

Like many people, Appleby tended to think of the community college system in terms of technical and manufacturing training.The CPCC-Siemens partnership for advanced manufacturing offers a well-known example.

Or, as Melissa Vrana, CPCC assistant dean of arts, puts it, "People are more familiar with (training at the school for) heating and air conditioning. We offer so much people are not aware of. I have a lot of students interested in creative endeavors."

Now, Vrana and Appleby told me, CPCC and Wray Ward have established what Vrana calls "a much more intentional" partnership to move students into advertising and other creative jobs. Wray Ward has its first CPCC student working at the agency. Thornton, one of the agency's newly hired executives, hopes to increase the number of students at the agency to three or four at a time. The hope being that those relationships will lead Wray Ward and at least some of those students to stick together after graduation.

Graphic design, film editing, journalism and other classes can feed into creative professions, Vrana says. She points to students versed in social networking and marketing as potential candidates for agency jobs.

Thornton notes Wray Ward, like many agencies, is expanding its video and digital work for clients. Students can often have an influence on such projects because they are so immersed in the morphing, growing online media consumption and habits.

"If we train them, we have a better chance of keeping them," Appleby says. And she's looking for rivals to join the cause, telling me the industry benefits if and when more ad shops decide to help train and attract the next generation of workers instead of fighting for the same people again and again. "We have made a commitment to growing our talent."

Posted in Announcements, Community.

CPCC to Open Ballantyne Center Classes Begin in July

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) will begin offering classes in its new Ballantyne Center in July.

The college is leasing 10,000 square feet of space in the Gibson Building, located at 11430 N. Community House Rd., Charlotte, with plans to have the facility up fitted into classrooms by mid-summer.

"The Ballantyne community is one of the fastest-growing areas of Mecklenburg County and has been for some time," explained Dr. Tony Zeiss, CPCC president. "As many as 200,000 Mecklenburg residents and 200 businesses call Ballantyne home, while several Fortune 500 companies have operations in the area. The college sees the need to serve this part of the county more effectively and will do so by having a physical presence there."

CPCC will open its Ballantyne Center by first offering corporate and continuing education classes.

Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Campus, Community, Events, Resources.

Join us in celebrating 50 years of nursing education excellence!

Join us in celebrating 50 years of nursing education excellence!

Central Piedmont Community College invites you to attend

Christa A. Overcash Associate Degree in Nursing Program

50th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, June 11, 2015

4:30 7 p.m.

Health Careers Building

1335 Elizabeth Avenue

Charlotte, North Carolina 28204

Posted in Alumni, Announcements.

Guest Bloggers Sarah Clifford


My (Not-So) Failure to Launch

March 2, 2015 9:54 am
Written by: Sarah Clifford

I didn't expect to end up at community college.
When I was a little girl I remember driving past Central Piedmont Community College Central campus, and awing at the immense size. My dad teased me by saying that someday I would be going there myself, just as both of my parents had. This was only considered a joke because even at a young age, I expressed my desire to go to a big, "important" college. I read every college prep book available before I even reached ninth grade. I was excited beyond belief for college. It only made sense that I would go to a well-regarded school.

Nothing shoots down that idea more than the cost of tuition. Even with hefty scholarships, my tuition at a private university would have left me drowning in debt. Countless other students have experienced this, so I'm not about to make my dilemma seem exclusive. What became my solution, is slowly becoming a trend as well.

May 1st, the day that most high school seniors make their commitments to colleges, I terminated mine. I turned down scholarships and decided not to bury myself in debt. Now, it should be known that I wasn't a bit happy about the situation. It was painful to watch all of my peers go off to college, and participate in freshman orientation. I never moved into a dorm, and my roommate is a terrier-mix. As a former dual enrollment student, I felt as if I never actually graduated. Going back to school was anticlimactic.

However, nothing compares to knowing that my school is paid for. I may not have qualified for financial aid, and community colleges don't offer hefty scholarships, but thus far I am debt-free. I have saved myself around $50,000 and that's just within the first year.

One might think, that at a severe discount, you may be sacrificing the quality of education. Central Piedmont, is second to none, literally. I'll never forget one of my professors telling me that I might as well be sitting in a lecture hall at Chapel Hill. Little did he know that I would carry that statement with me through my moments of self doubt and deprecation. Community college tends to get a bad reputation, and it sometimes feels as if you need to explain to your peers just how difficult even the core classes tend to be. Community colleges, particularly Central Piedmont, have to hold their students to standard of impeccable excellence in order to make the transfer process seamless. Work hard now, stress less later.

While I have missed out on certain rights of passage that come with your a-typical four year institution, I have been able to experience many other things that would have come much later in my education. For example I was able to take an internship that my previous college would have only allowed in my junior year. I have been able to craft an educational plan to fit my academic needs alongside a supportive group of advisors. Never have I been forced into taking classes that I didn't need. I feel confident that going forward in my college career I will have the tools required to succeed with the benefit of avoiding crippling debt. With the help of my professors I have been able to make two honor societies. The closest I'll get to "going greek" at this point in my academic career. My professors come with a wealth of knowledge from some of the top universities in the country. Their passion for the subjects they teach inspires me daily. I have found friendships and mentors in some of them. In nearly every college tour I took, a key phrase seemed to be that of close student-teacher relationships. I'm not entirely sure, however, that this may have been as keenly accomplished in a 300 person lecture hall.

No, I didn't expect to end up at community college. I own T-shirts for numerous colleges, except my own. I carry an Ivy League coffee mug, and my car sports a myriad of collegiate bumper stickers. However, I would stake more value in what I do not own, paralyzing debt. Community college helped me do that. Maybe it's time to buy that t-shirt?

Sarah Clifford is a writer and theatre actress from Charlotte. She is in her second year of college at Central Piedmont, and pursuing an art history degree. In her spare time she enjoys running, volunteering with the local animal shelter, reading art crime thrillers, and loving on her terrier, Marty.

Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Community.

Cummins, CPCC establish apprenticeship program

Cummins, CPCC establish apprenticeship program

Cummins Inc., a global manufacturer, distributor and service provider of diesel and natural gas engines and related technologies, and Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) have partnered to train students from across North America in Cummins' Technician Apprentice Program (TAP).

With a program launch in January, groups of 15 Cummins apprentices are now taking classes at CPCC in five-week blocks. Over the course of the four-year program, Cummins apprentices will spend the equivalent of two years at CPCC, where they will learn how to build and maintain Cummins diesel engines. When the students complete the program, they will have earned an associate degree in Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology and be Cummins certified in engine and/or power generation.

CPCC and Cummins are working together to create and equip a Cummins diesel and heavy equipment lab at the college's Merancas Campus, in Huntersville, N.C. Cummins apprentices from across North America and the Caribbean will come to CPCC. A second cohort of 15 students will arrive at the Merancas Campus in July 2015.

"I am thrilled to partner with Central Piedmont Community College," said Ray Amlung, vice president, Distribution Service Operations and Cummins Service Functional Excellence, Cummins Inc. "This partnership helps equip employees, who are critical to our success, with the skills necessary to be effective in an increasingly complex workplace. I think this can be a mo
The apprentices are full-time Cummins employees, with the company paying all program expenses (tuition, fees, books), and providing a complete set of diesel technician tools. The program requires 1,200 CPCC instruction hours, including lab, in-class and online courses. In addition to the diesel and heavy equipment training, the apprentices will take math, English, communication and workplace psychology courses.del used across the industry to create a stronger workforce, which in turn, will strengthen our local communities."

"We're looking for career-oriented men and women with a desire to work with Cummins technology," said David Taylor, Cummins TAP leader. "Cummins is a global company, and this apprentice program provides individuals the skills necessary for quality, well-paying jobs and the potential for career advancement in our dynamic company."

The program is registered with NCWorks Apprenticeship and certified by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Program applicants need a high school diploma or GED with corresponding grade-point average requirements or be an honorably discharged military veteran.

"CPCC is proud and exc

ited to partner with Cummins on their innovative Technician Apprentice Program," said Tamara Williams, dean of the Merancas Campus. "The program offers each student a wonderful opportunity and provides the foundation for a great career, while establishing a talent pipeline for Cummins. We are proud to welcome the first group of students and look forward to the second group arriving in July.

Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Campus, Community, Events.