WBTV Story: CMS Student Already Living His Dream As Mechanic

Omar Cruz is not only a student at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, he's also a student at Central Piedmont.

Thanks to CMS' apprenticeship program and a partial scholarship from Central Piedmont, Omar currently attends both schools through the college's Career & College Promise Dual Enrollment program, an initiative that gives qualified high-school-age students the opportunity to get a jumpstart on their career or college education while still in high school -- tuition free. 

Each morning, from 7 a.m. 10:30 a.m., Omar can be found at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, and in the afternoons, he's working under the hood of a car at Mecklenburg Automotive and Collision Center, gaining the valuable hands-on experience he'll need to pursue his dream career as a Advanced Certified Expert (ACE) certified technician.

The amazing part of Omar's story is he's only a teenager. At 17, he's already earned two certifications and a license from Central Piedmont, will graduate in mid-June from Phillip O. Berry with a diploma from CMS, and begin Central Piedmont this fall.

See the full WBTV story here: https://www.wbtv.com/2022/05/17/never-too-early-start-cms-student-already-living-his-dream-mechanic/

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Posted in Alumni, Community, Foundation News.

Central Piedmont To Open Eye Clinic June 15

Thanks to a collaboration between Lions Services, the local ophthalmic community, and Central Piedmont Community College, the college will open an eye clinic in its Leon Levine Health Sciences building, located on its Central Campus, on June 15. The clinic will provide quality eye health care to Central Piedmont students and Charlotte community members who are in need.

Lions Services, a not-for-profit organization renowned for offering free vision exams and glasses to those within the community who needed financial assistance, closed its eye clinic on March 1, 2022, after more than 25 years of service.

Recognizing a need for local individuals to continue to have access to affordable eye care and prescription glasses, Central Piedmont's Ophthalmic Medical Personnel program will assume the role of Lions Services' eye clinic within Charlotte-Mecklenburg and open an eye clinic this spring. The clinic will offer a variety of services, including comprehensive eye exams and eye glasses at no cost.

"We're honored to fill the eye health care void created by the closing of Lions Services' eye clinic earlier this year," said Kathleen Rodgers, program chair for Central Piedmont's Ophthalmic Medical Personnel program. "It's proven that access to affordable eye care allows all members of the population from children to senior citizens to thrive and enjoy an improved quality of life. As Charlotte's community college, local residents rely on us to provide them with accessible services. Our new eye clinic will give us the opportunity to continue this tradition."

Lions Services is donating all of its eye equipment and supplies to Central Piedmont for its use. In addition, ophthalmic community members who donated their time and energy to providing eye care services at Lions Services eye clinic, will begin volunteering at Central Piedmont's eye clinic when it opens June 15. The college's Ophthalmic Medical Personnel students and faculty will also provide clinical services.

"We are so fortunate that our eye clinic patients will benefit from the vast knowledge and expertise of Charlotte's experienced eye care professionals who previously served at Lions Services" said Rodgers. "In addition to our patients receiving the quality care they deserve, the clinic will give our Ophthalmic Medical Personnel students a valuable clinical opportunity as well. The initiative is truly a win-win for all involved."

"We are very appreciative for this commitment by Central Piedmont to ensure continued eye care for Charlotte's citizens in need. Hundreds of Charlotteans will benefit each month from this service," said Dr. David Ugland, a retired ophthalmologist and former volunteer at Lions Services' eye clinic. "As a volunteer ophthalmologist at Lions, I was reminded with each exam of the positive personal and community impact of the clinic. I am grateful that Central Piedmont will continue to provide this valuable service."

Central Piedmont's Ophthalmic Medical Personnel program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 semester. To learn more, please visit cpcc.edu/programs/ophthalmic-medical-personnel or email kathleen.rodgers@cpcc.edu.

To make a donation in support of Central Piedmont's new eye clinic, please contact the Central Piedmont Foundation at 704.330.6869.

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Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Community, Foundation News.

Female Veterans Connect to VA Healthcare Benefits

On May 11, Central Piedmont hosted a "VA Women's Health Reengagement Training" event on its Cato Campus to give women veterans in the Charlotte region an opportunity to mingle with their peers and to learn more about the Veteran Administration's (VA) veteran- and women-centered healthcare services.

The event was part of Women Veterans Health Reengagement Training's (heaRT) initiative to raise awareness of the VA's healthcare policy changes so more female veterans will enroll and take advantage of the healthcare benefits that are available to them.

"Women veterans are one of the largest demographics to not utilize VA healthcare benefits," said Richard Bartell, director of Central Piedmont's Military Families and Veterans Services. "Many of them don't know that even if they have TRICARE or private insurance, they're still eligible. That's why this event is so important, it's connecting our veterans to the benefits they need and deserve."

During the four-hour event, participants networked with one another and learned more about:

  • women's health services
  • whole health and mental health services
  • how to determine their VA care eligibility
  • how to enroll in VA

Central Piedmont was one of two sites in North Carolina to host a Women Veterans heaRT event this month. A total of 13 Women Veterans heaRT events are scheduled to be held throughout the Southeast and the Midwest during May and June.

Learn more about Central Piedmont's Military Families and Veterans Services.

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Posted in Community, Foundation News, Students. Tagged as military, veterans.

Partnership with BCBS of North Carolina Aims to Build Diversity in Insurance Industry

Through a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Central Piedmont Community College has received $211,485 to provide scholarships to develop a more diverse and inclusive talent pool of trained and licensed individuals for the insurance production and sales industry. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to underserved populations and communities by diversifying the pool of licensed insurance agents.

Central Piedmont will use the funds to offer scholarships to 26 students per year for five years to cover the cost of insurance pre-licensing courses provided by the college plus licensing exam fees and NC Department of Insurance fees. As scholarship recipients, students also will receive instruction through the "Working Smart: Essential Skills for Workplace Success and Career Development" program and wrap-around services, including interview preparation, additional academic and career counseling, and small business counseling.

Scholarship eligibility is open to persons who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Black
  • Hispanic
  • Bilingual English-Spanish
  • Female
  • Age 18-49
  • Workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Persons in transition leaving high school or college, or looking to make a career change.

Interested individuals can apply to the program starting in May. Successful applicants will be notified in July, with classes beginning in late-August.

"Central Piedmont is so appreciative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for making such an investment to advance diversity in the field of insurance agents," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "We know this program will generate much interest and provide another pathway at the college that will lead to rewarding and family-sustaining careers with great opportunities for advancement, perhaps even business ownership."

For more information, contact Hunter Smith, director of Central Piedmont's James R. Worrell Sr. Financial Services Institute, at 704-330-4685 and hunter.smith@cpcc.edu.

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Posted in Announcements, Community, Foundation News.

Alumni Highlight - Joe Vagnone '87

For the last nine years, Joe Vagnone has been hosting "Local Biz Now," a radio program on WSIC 105.9FM dedicated to sharing a behind-the-scenes look at area businesses, with advice for new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. His own experience spans a wide variety of industries, including multi-state restaurant concepts, multiple different franchises, publishing, and more. For 30-plus years, he has also worked as a business broker, helping others to buy and sell small businesses.

Joe Vagnone"I like to say, 'I have bought, sold, owned and operated more small businesses than anybody I have ever met,'" Vagnone says, with a smile. And it all began at Central Piedmont with an Associate in Applied Science degree in hotel and restaurant management in 1987.

It was a natural fit for him, he says, a first generation college student pursuing his goal to own a restaurant and be self-employed.

"The holistic approach to education and training within the hospitality industry at the time was one of the top in the country," says Vagnone, who received Central Piedmont's Hagemeyer Award in 2015--the prestigious honor is given to one outstanding alumnus or alumna annually. 

"This approach required me to understand accounting, legal, and personnel issues and prepared me for rapid growth, allowing me to rise above my contemporaries..." he says.

Outside of classes, he also gained valuable leadership experience at the college. That included stints as student body president and as an executive board member of the Hotel Restaurant Association Club, for which he traveled across the country promoting the college's hotel and restaurant management program (now known as "hospitality management") at industry expos.

After graduating, Vagnone opened his first sandwich shop with the help of connections and relationships he had made through the college.

For Central Piedmont students just starting out, he offers this advice: "To succeed, learning is not a singular or defined process. It is constantly learning something new and enjoying the process, while applying it in an intentional manner."

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Posted in Alumni, Community, Foundation News. Tagged as alumni spotlight, alumni success.

Central Piedmont Contributes Nearly $1 Billion to Mecklenburg Economy

The results of an economic impact study conducted for Central Piedmont Community College found the institution contributes $827.7 million annually to the Mecklenburg County economy, an amount equal to 0.7 percent of the county's gross regional product.

Central Piedmont's measured annual $827.7 million economic impact includes $139.9 million in operations spending, $35.6 million in construction spending, $30.8 million in student spending, and a $621.4-million impact made by college alumni who live and work in Mecklenburg County.

Expressed in terms of jobs, Central Piedmont's $827.7 million impact supports 11,274 jobs, or about one out of 85 jobs in Mecklenburg County.

"For almost 60 years, Central Piedmont Community College has established a solid record and reputation for making a positive impact in Mecklenburg County," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "We know generations of students and hundreds of employers have been benefited from having a comprehensive college and workforce development partner such as Central Piedmont serving Charlotte-Mecklenburg. We also know Central Piedmont makes a significant impact as an economic engine, boosting the county's economy and generating an excellent return on the investment made by students and taxpayers."

The economic modeling firm Emsi conducted the study, looking at college data from the 2019-20 fiscal year. The study found that for every dollar students invest in their Central Piedmont education they receive $3.80 in future earnings for an annual rate of return of 17 percent. For every dollar of public money invested in the college, taxpayers receive $1.40 for an average rate of return of 2.5 percent. From a societal perspective, for every dollar invested in Central Piedmont, residents in North Carolina receive $6.40 in return from the contributions made by Central Piedmont graduates in the state's workforce.

For more details about the economic impact study, please read the full Executive Summary of the Economic Value of Central Piedmont or view the Central Piedmont economic impact fact sheet. Both documents are accessible on the college's Reports and Publications Web page.

"Central Piedmont creates value and helps power the Charlotte-Mecklenburg economic engine in many ways. The college helps students increase their employability and achieve their individual potential. The college helps keep students in the county, generating new dollars and opportunities for Mecklenburg County. Central Piedmont provides students with the education, training, and skills they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers that provide real economic mobility," Deitemeyer said.

"The college supports the vast variety of industries in Mecklenburg County, serves county businesses, and benefits society as a whole in North Carolina from an expanded economy and improved quality of life. Additionally, the benefits created by Central Piedmont extend to the state and local government through increased tax revenues and public sector savings. Now, more than ever, as Mecklenburg County emerges from the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, Central Piedmont is a sound investment and critical community partner," Deitemeyer added.

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Posted in Announcements, Community, Foundation News. Tagged as economic impact.

Esparza, Rhodes Appointed to Central Piedmont Board of Trustees

Gabriel J. Esparza and Khalif J. Rhodes, both of Charlotte, have been appointed by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to the Central Piedmont Community College Board of Trustees.

Esparza is a seasoned executive with more than 25 years of experience leading businesses spanning both large corporations and nimble start-ups. He serves as both advisor and investor in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures. In one notable example, he played an integral part of the success story at RapidSOS a gov-tech platform that radically transformed the way people communicate with 911, making it a data-driven experience that transmits precise location and other critical information to first responders.

Esparza's term on the Central Piedmont board runs through June 2023. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in International Relations and Psychology from Stanford University.

Rhodes is an attorney and founder of The Rhodes Firm, PLLC. He established the firm in 2012, after earning his J.D. and LL.M., from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. During his tenure at The Rhodes Firm, he has assisted various small to medium-sized businesses in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate compliance and due diligence. In 2017, he was appointed the Chief Magistrate of the 26th Judicial District. Under his guidance, Mecklenburg County attempted to address the significant disparities in the criminal justice system. He was a part of a team that re-wrote Mecklenburg County's bail policy.

Rhodes' appointment as a Central Piedmont Trustee runs through June 2025. In addition to his law degrees, he earned a BA in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University.

"I am excited to welcome Mr. Esparza and Mr. Rhodes to the Central Piedmont Board of Trustees," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "This is an important period in the history of the college as we endeavor to help so many Mecklenburg County residents rebuild their careers or start their higher education journeys in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The college will rely on its Board of Trustees for experienced insight and wise counsel."

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Posted in Announcements, Community, Foundation News.

College Dedicates Leon Levine Health Sciences Center

Central Piedmont Community College today dedicated the Leon Levine Health Sciences Center on the college's Central Campus. The naming is in recognition of a $2.5-million grant from The Leon Levine Foundation to support health sciences education and health careers preparation at Central Piedmont.

Representatives from the Leon Levine Foundation and Central Piedmont cut dedication ribbon for Leon Levine Health Sciences Building with large scissors.College leaders and community partners including Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president, Central Piedmont; Linda Lockman-Brooks, chair, Board of Trustees, Central Piedmont; Weston M. Andress, president, Board of Trustees, Central Piedmont Community College Foundation; and Thomas W. Lawrence III, president and director, The Leon Levine Foundation were in attendance at the 11 a.m., ribbon cutting event.

"Not many partnerships last 20 years and yet today, we write the beginning of another chapter in this amazing story [between Central Piedmont and The Leon Levine Foundation]," said Lawrence. "What has happened in this particular 20-year partnership? Hundreds of students educated, thousands of lives transformed, and now, with this grant, the crossing of $10 million of investment entrusted to Central Piedmont by The Leon Levine Foundation."

The Leon Levine Health Sciences Center opened its doors in August 2020, and boasts 74,450 square-feet of space. The facility was designed by Creech & Associates, working with Morris-Berg Architects; was constructed by Rodgers; and provides a home base for multiple health professions programs, including:

  • dental assisting
  • biomedical equipment technology
  • surgical technology
  • polysomnography

It also hosts a state-of-the-art virtual-anatomy classroom.

The Leon Levine Foundation grant comes to the college as part of its ongoing "Powering a Stronger Future Campaign," which seeks to raise $40 million to support students, programs, and faculty development.

View photos of the dedication event.

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Posted in Announcements, Campus, Community, Foundation News.

Civil Right Icon, Former Mayor Visits College

Harvey GanttThe Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council at Central Piedmont brought civil rights icon and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt to Central Piedmont's Halton Theater stage on Oct. 14, to serve as a panelist during its EDI event titled, "A Story of Perseverance in Driving Change."

Mr. Gantt was joined on stage by moderator Dr. Charles Mitchell, equity and opportunity presidential fellow at Central Piedmont, as well as panelists Dr. Tracie Clark, vice president for strategy and organizational excellence, and Dr. Chris Cathcart, vice president for student affairs, at Central Piedmont.

During the event, Central Piedmont employees and students had the opportunity to hear the group discuss the power of collaboration and allyship in creating change and moving the EDI needle in a positive direction, and how Central Piedmont can continue pushing forward in supporting its students and the Charlotte community. 

"Central Piedmont is a very special place. This institution - at its most critical level - allows folks from all circumstances in life to get on a ladder of mobility upward," explained Gantt. "I like the word 'transformation.' Central Piedmont makes a difference in the things that students can do. It puts individuals on a ladder, that can be built as high as they want it ... and that's why the college is a very important place. I've tried over the years to understand its value to the community and to be as supportive of it whenever I can."

Mr. Gantt was Charlotte's first African-American mayor and the first African-American student enrolled at Clemson University. His visit is one of the enrichment opportunities the college is using to help advance its EDI strategy, which college leadership has identified as mission-critical work. Over the past year, Central Piedmont has hosted a number of EDI related events for both its employees and students to attend. Examples include: inclusive leadership trainings, Black History Month events, inclusive teaching practice sessions, examining best EDI practices from other institutions, courageous conversations, and more.

Central Piedmont is offering such events to foster the growth of its employees and the institution as a whole. The goal is to deliver a superior collegiate experience for students that supports their success both personally and professionally, while embedding an enhanced EDI philosophy and awareness in the college's daily practices and processes.

View video from the event.

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Posted in Announcements, Campus, Community, Foundation News.

College Recieves $10-Million Gift Commitment to Strengthen Arts and Humanities

A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has made a $10-million gift commitment to Central Piedmont Community College. The gift is the single-largest individual donation in Central Piedmont's 58-year history and among the largest gifts ever made to a community college nationwide.

Central Piedmont will use the gift to transform its role as a community resource for arts and humanities programming and learning. Plans for the gift include:

  • establishing an endowment that provides resources to attract and retain outstanding arts and humanities faculty members;
  • creating a scholarship endowment to provide Opportunity Scholarships for students who are pursuing degrees in arts and humanities;
  • creating and launching an arts and humanities series which will bring renowned authors, artists, and performers to Central Piedmont for the benefit of students, faculty, staff and the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg community;
  • establishing a public art fund, which will provide resources to commission public art for the enhancement of outdoor spaces at the college, enriching the lives of students, faculty, staff and visitors on a daily basis;
  • enhancing instruction in the visual arts; and
  • creating an endowment to support and expand instruction and learning in the arts and humanities at the college.

"This magnanimous gift will strengthen Central Piedmont's capacity to educate, train, and empower well-rounded individuals who will understand, appreciate, and participate in the rich and diverse cultural traditions that strengthen the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. "The generous donor believes regardless of students' academic background and desired education and career pathway, their perspectives should include experiences in the arts and humanities to achieve a better comprehension of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future. Through our conversations, it's clear the donor believes Central Piedmont is a critical community resource for Mecklenburg County residents beginning their higher education journey, seeking skills to build a family-sustaining career, or needing additional credentials for career growth.

"A gift of this magnitude will be transformative for the college and the community. As a result of this gift, Central Piedmont students will gain a greatly enhanced appreciation of the arts and humanities, aiding them as they build productive lives of meaning and service. At the same time, Central Piedmont will be able to establish itself as a national leader in arts and humanities education among community colleges," Deitemeyer added.

The $10-million gift commitment comes to the college as part of its ongoing "Powering a Stronger Future campaign." Powering a Stronger Future is an ambitious, five-year, comprehensive, fundraising effort focused on providing students with greater access to outstanding educational and career-preparation opportunities, addressing the workforce needs of business and industry in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The campaign will conclude on June 30, 2022.

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Posted in Alumni, Announcements, Community, Foundation News, Scholarships. Tagged as poweringastrongerfuture.

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