During the morning festivities, Ms. Desiree Kinker, a 2019 Central Piedmont graduate, addressed this year's graduates. This is the second time Central Piedmont has had a student keynote speaker at graduation. Desiree, a culinary arts student, shared her personal story with her peers. It was a tale of perseverance; her determination to complete her education, despite a period of homelessness; and overcoming the odds. She stood out as a prime example of a student who valued and leveraged the relationships around her, worked hard to build a better life, and brought light to any space she entered.
In addition to hearing from Desiree, attendees also heard from Adam Brooks, senior manager of learning and development for Charter Communications, who was recognized with this year's Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award, and Brandy Garrett, science department chair for Blenheim Elementary Middle School, who was honored with the college's inaugural Young Alumni Award of Excellence.
View photos from the day.
During its spring commencement on May 16 at 10 a.m., at Bojangles' Coliseum, Central Piedmont Community College will present Adam S. Brooks, senior manager of learning and development for Charter Communications, with the 2019 Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award, and Brandy R. Garrett, science department chair for Blenheim Elementary Middle School, in Bennettsville, S.C., with the inaugural Young Alumni Award of Excellence. The awards recognize a former Central Piedmont student who has benefited significantly from experiences at Central Piedmont and whose efforts have helped the community.
Adam S. Brooks
Brooks graduated from Central Piedmont in 2004 with an associate degree in business administration. Since that time, he has built a successful career, working in a variety of fields, including instructional technologies, training management, new media communications, marketing, and many others. A consummate servant leader, Brooks seeks to place the needs of the local community first. As a result, he can be found volunteering on a number of boards for area nonprofits and economic development teams, including the Matthews Economic Development Advisory Committee, The Red Brick Partnership, and The Armed Forces Museum and Archives of the Carolinas, or helping Charlotte men in need by gifting them a pair of quality, vintage dress shoes that he personally restores through his shoe ministry. A passionate entrepreneur, Brooks is a frequent guest speaker, writer, and contributor who has founded a number of community events in the Queen City that highlight innovation and startups, including THE Geek Fest at Central Piedmont, BarCamp Charlotte and EdCamp Charlotte.
Brandy R. Garrett
Since graduating from Central Piedmont in 2009 with an associate in arts, Garrett has earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from UNC Charlotte, and a master's degree in education from Francis Marion University. Today, she is married, a mom to five children by adoption, and a proud middle school teacher, who works to ensure the in-need children she teaches are well loved. She routinely raises money for her students, to guarantee they have the supplies they need to learn, and was among the first to raise her hand to help those impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael in fall 2018. Her commitment extends well beyond her classroom; in fact, each year she returns to Central Piedmont to volunteer at the college's annual Phi Theta Kappa induction ceremony, an event that honors the academic achievements of current Central Piedmont students.
The Hagemeyer Award takes its name from Dr. Richard H. Hagemeyer, CPCC president for 23 years, who led the college from its beginnings as a trade school with 1,200 students to one of the largest N.C. community colleges. View the previous award recipients at cpccfoundation.org/alumni/hagemeyer-award-honorees. To learn more about the Richard H. Hagemeyer Educational Advancement Award and its requirements, please visit www.cpccfoundation.org/hagemeyer.
This is the first year the college has awarded a Young Alumni Award of Excellence. To be considered for the award, the recipient must not only meet all of the Hagemeyer Award requirements, but also must have graduated from Central Piedmont within the last 10 years. To learn more about the Young Alumni Excellence Award, visit www.cpccfoundation.org/youngalumni. Read more
Central Piedmont culinary student, Desiree Kinker, has been chosen as the 2019 Central Piedmont commencement speaker. Desiree is a Merancas Technical Careers Scholar as well as a Ruth G. Shaw Scholar.
Desiree Kinker first started at Central Piedmont in 2010. Dealing with the day-to-day college grind can be challenging by itself, but Desiree dealt with another situation many college students don't have to face homelessness.
"I started at Central Piedmont in 2010 and have been homeless almost the entire time," she said. "I lived in a homeless shelter for a year, left college for five years and currently live in transitional housing. I haven't had a place to call my own, so that's why I came back to Central Piedmont, because it truly felt like a home."
Since her return to college, Desiree is confident and making the most of her opportunities. She received two scholarships - Ruth G. Shaw Scholarship and Merancas Technical Careers Scholarship which, according to her, allowed her to "relieve some of my financial fears."
She is enrolled in the college's culinary arts degree program, an active participant in culinary club and a Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society member. "I chose to resume my studies because I want a better life," Desiree said. "I have been able to interact and learn from mentors and form bonds with female business leaders around Charlotte. The faculty and students here have really had my back and pushed me to be better. I hope to be a light in the darkness for those who may be struggling."
Last year for the first time in the history of Central Piedmont, a student was selected as the commencement speaker. Patsy Montesinos, also a Ruth G. Shaw Scholar, was the 2018 speaker. Patsy is completing her first year at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is majoring in broadcast journalism.
This year's graduation ceremony will be held at Bojangles' Coliseum on Thursday, May 16, at 10 a.m. Read more