Category Archives: News

Math & Music

A common perception is that music and mathematics are linked. Students who are in the school band often perform well in math classes. Rachel Desmarais is a believer in that perception.

Desmarais, 45, is the executive vice president and chief operating officer at Forsyth Technical Community College. As a music major at Mars Hill College, she was also a math tutor. A few years after she graduated in 1992, she used her degree to work in Christian education, directing choir and coordinating youth activities at Olivet Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.

In 1995, when she found that she needed to take a computer class to handle the church budget, she enrolled in an Excel class at Forsyth Tech. That was the first step by which her vocation—music—would become her avocation, her hobby. She was hooked on computers from then on.

“I remember I had to kind of weasel my way into [the Excel class] because they wanted me to take a different class before that one,” she says. “But I said ‘No, no, I have complete confidence I can do this.’

“It was an amazing class,” she adds. “I could barely hang on. It was the perfect level to challenge me. Then I just took some more computer classes.”

She would eventually teach part time at the college. Computers weren’t even a thought when Desmarais was attending Mars Hill after years of piano and voice lessons. She began as a piano major, then switched to a vocal performance major for her last two years in college.

Desmarais saw her future in music. “My plan had been to go on to graduate school and get a master’s degree in music.

“In music, it’s kind of sad; teachers are often failed performers. So they (faculty) want you to have the vocal performance degree. But I had never had any intention of being an opera singer or anything like that.”

Then, after getting married at age 20, she changed her focus. “An early marriage just derails a lot of people from going on. I needed to work.” Desmarais had been trained to direct choirs.

Her first job out of college was at a church in Marshall. She then moved to Winston-Salem with her now ex-husband and her young son, Ian, now 22. Desmarais enrolled in the computer classes at Forsyth Tech, which launched her career in information technology (IT).

“I realized fairly early on that my fouryear degree wasn’t enough—it didn’t provide me with the real-life job skills I needed to develop a stable and financially secure career path,” she says. She adds that her musical ability helped develop her IT skills. “I’ve heard that music and math are correlated, and there has been some research to support this claim. For me personally, music helped me understand math early on with fractions. Later, it helped me to think in terms of systems, relations and general reasoning.

“I’ve met lots of musically inclined people in IT. Math, music and technology seem to go together.”

After she left her position at the church, she started as an administrative assistant at a business in Kernersville and quickly “morphed into a systems analyst.”

Her next job was at legal firm Womble Carlyle, where she ran one the firm’s Help Desks. She then moved into project management and process management. She also remarried during that time. Her husband, John Desmarais, is a senior computer programmer for Novant Health. Together they have a son, Conall, who is in the fifth grade.

She returned to Forsyth Tech in 2002 and steadily rose through the ranks, serving as a department chair and chief information officer before becoming executive vice president.

But music still remains a big part of her life. She joined the Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers in 1996.

“It’s my outlet,” she says. “I still love to sing. There is something wonderful about making music with others. You feel like you’re part of something. I enjoy the harmony. Love the friendship. There are 20 to 24 in the group. It’s been pretty amazing because we enjoyed choir, and we still get to do that.”

The group has about six concerts a year. They have performed for many years at Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston, S.C., and will again this year.

Decision not to offer four-year nursing degree at N.C. community colleges draws mixed reviews

Two local nursing administrators have positioned themselves on opposite sides of a proposal that could have resulted in the state’s community colleges offering four-year nursing degrees.

On Jan. 15, the State Board of Community Colleges voted 11-7 against beginning a feasibility study on offering a four-year nursing degree. The board decided instead to endorse other ways to increase the number of nurses with four-year degrees, including online learning, dual-enrollment programs and partnerships with the University of North Carolina system.

The system had set aside $75,000 for the study.

U.S. News & World Report released its national top-100 best job prospects list for 2016 on Tuesday, with health care representing 11 of the top 12 jobs. Nurse anesthetist was fourth, nurse practitioner was sixth, and registered nurse was 22nd.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the United States will need another 440,000 registered nurses by 2024. It said the median pay for registered nurses was nearly $67,000 a year in May 2014.

Linda Latham, the director of nursing at Forsyth Technical Community College, said she disagreed with the board’s decision.

“I’m disappointed that we aren’t going forward with the feasibility study to look further into it,” Latham said. “That’s what a feasibility study might have shown us in North Carolina” whether community colleges could offer four-year degrees.

“It can be done,” she said. “It appears that there are enough (nursing students) for all of us.”

Peggy Valentine, the dean of the School of Nursing at Winston-Salem State University, said she was happy with the board’s action.

“The decision to not move forward by community colleges allows us the opportunity to continue in our partnership with them,” she said. “In my opinion, the UNC schools of nursing do a great job in preparing baccalaureate degree nurses.”

The Institute of Medicine has recommended that 80 percent of nurses in North Carolina have a four-year degree by 2020, said Sam Powell, a community college board member who led the committee studying the issue. About half the state’s hospitals are requiring four-year degrees already, he said, because insurance reimbursements are higher when higher-skilled nurses are involved.

North Carolina had about 97,000 nurses in practice in 2012, according to media reports, and about 4,000 take licensing exams annually.

Nine states have community colleges that now confer bachelor’s degrees in nursing, according to the Community College Baccalaureate Association. But because the mission of two-year colleges is primarily workforce training, often for those who are studying while holding down a job, their bachelor’s degree programs make up a small fraction of their enrollments, said Beth Hagan, the association’s executive director.

This is the first school year that North Carolina’s community colleges and public universities have made it easier to get an associate degree in nursing close to home and then transfer to a UNC campus for a four-year degree.

Forsyth Tech’s nursing program has partnerships with WSSU and UNC Greensboro, Latham said. Students at Forsyth Tech participate in a dual admissions program with WSSU. Forsyth Tech students pursue a two-year associate degree, then transfer to WSSU to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Katie Braxton of Winston-Salem, who participates in Forsyth Tech’s program with WSSU, said the state board should have voted to study whether community colleges should offer four-year nursing degrees.

“I think it is a fantastic idea,” she said. “It is the most cost-effective approach because tuition at community colleges is cheaper than at a four-year public university.”

UNC Greensboro also has begun a “RN to BSN” program in which Forsyth Tech nursing students are taking UNCG nursing courses on the Forsyth Tech campus in Winston-Salem.

Courtney Halderman of Winston-Salem, a nurse at Forsyth Medical Center who is in that program, said she was disappointed by the state board’s decision.

“I think it’s a shame it was rejected,” Halderman said. “It would have been an interesting study. It’s important to recognize all of the opportunities out there for nurses to get their four-year degrees.”

First Burke/Joines Scholarship winner picked

Marquis Wilds liked to watch his dad work on cars. Now he’s the go-to man for things that need fixing.

On Tuesday, Wilds became the first person to receive a Burke/Joines Scholarship that will pay him $1,150 to buy the books he needs for an auto repair program he is enrolled in at Forsyth Technical Community College.

Wilds, a freshman, is enrolled in the Automotive Toyota Technician Training and Education Network program at Forsyth Tech, which teaches students to become factory-certified repair technicians at Toyota and Lexus dealerships.

Mayor Allen Joines and Council Member Vivian Burke formed the scholarship program last fall, and both were at Forsyth Tech on Tuesday to take part in a short ceremony awarding the scholarship.

The scholarship pays for tuition, books or both for up to six semesters at Forsyth Tech. To be eligible, a student must be a resident of public housing or live in a home where the household income is below the poverty level.

Although Burke and Joines are public officials, they are paying for the scholarship out of their pockets.

Joines said he’s hoping to interest the business community of the city in paying for at least four more future scholarship, and said he’s found two businesses wanting to take part.

Wilds said that he will be doing an internship as part of his training and would be working for a dealership after he’s finished.

“I got interested in this program when I was in my junior year at the Career Center,” Wilds said. “I set my mind on the Toyota program.”

Burke and Joines said they would be picking another scholarship winner in the fall, when they also hope to have more scholarships to pass out with the help of local businesses.

Forsyth Tech Hires New VP of Instructional Services, Chief Academic Officer

Joel Welch Hails from Greenville Technical College, Holds Degrees in Civil Engineering, Educational Leadership

Forsyth Tech announces that Dr. Joel Welch has joined the college as the new vice president for Instructional Services and chief academic officer. Welch’s appointment became effective January 4, 2016.

In his new role, Welch is responsible for all credit instruction at Forsyth Tech, which includes overseeing 68 associate degrees, as well as providing faculty leadership, program development, community outreach, and general program administration.

Welch came to Forsyth Tech from Greenville Technical College (GTC) in South Carolina, where his most recent position was dean of the Business & Technology Division. He also served GTC as faculty member, department head, dean for Engineering Technology and associate vice president for Administration. Prior to joining GTC in 1998, he worked as a consulting engineer for 10 years.

While at GTC, Welch served as the lead academic advisor on the design team for the construction of a Center for Manufacturing Innovation and represented GTC in a partnership with the South Carolina National Guard to construct a joint-use facility for Aircraft Maintenance and Truck Driver training.

“We are excited that Joel has joined us,” said Dr. Gary Green, president of Forsyth Tech. “Joel brings to this position a deep background in community college education, civil engineering and advanced manufacturing. His demonstrated ability to build partnerships with business and industry and his clear leadership skills will allow us to expand our innovative course offerings and prepare our students in even greater ways to meet the increasingly rigorous academic and training demands of the 21st century workplace.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Forsyth Tech as vice president for Instructional Services and chief academic officer,” Welch said. “I look forward to leading the college’s strong, dedicated and accomplished faculty in creating new and relevant programmatic opportunities for our students supported by the further development of strong community partnerships.”

Welch earned his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from The Citadel, master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of South Carolina, and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Clemson University. Welch and his wife, Lisa, have three children.

Welch fills a position left vacant by Dr. Conley Winebarger who retired from Forsyth Tech last June.

Dr. Welch

Dr. Joel Welch is Forsyth Tech’s new vice president of Instructional Services and chief academic officer.

Students find medicine’s future ‘just down the road’

Rotary sponsored trip highlights nearby bio-science opportunities

County high schools students interested in a future in medicine recently got a chance to see some of the world’s top advancements thanks to a King Rotary Club program.

For the past two years the King Rotary Club has been sponsoring a job shadowing day for county high school students to highlight the job opportunities in the county.

“This year we wanted to find a way to expose students to new and emerging careers,” said Sue Jarvis who spearheads the program. “We want to hopefully keep talent in the Stokes County area. So we started thinking about the biotech field that was down in Winston-Salem and decided to target the science classes in all of the high schools.”

The result was a day of touring high-security facilities where some of the most cutting-edge advancements in tissue regeneration and organ transplants is being done coupled with a discussion of how local students can find a pathway to those careers through Forsyth Tech.

In mid-December, 53 students got a chance to visit the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who’s scientists were the first in the world to successfully implant a laboratory-grown organ into humans and are today working to grow more than 30 different organs and tissues in the laboratory.

“We work on loss of tissue function,” said Lab Operations Manager Thomas Eaton. “That loss can come from a variety of things like birth defects, diseases like cancer, car accidents or battlefield injuries. We, as a society, have gotten pretty good at transplants, but the problem is there is a growing gap between the number of people who need transplants and the number of organs available for them.”

He said the institute was broken into a number of core labs which allowed them to bring people with expertise from a variety of fields together to work on a variety of projects, including creating organs from scratch.

That process involves creating a structure, called a scaffold, to grow cells from the patients on to create a new organ.

“The process takes about four to six weeks,” said Eaton. “We do a lot of artificial scaffolds which we print with a 3-d printer. We can also use natural scaffolds. We can take a pig liver and remove everything but the collagen so we have the structure you need to grow cells on.

“We are also looking at biochips which can be used to test things like toxicology without having to go through the normal long process of testing on animals,” he added.

After that introduction the students had a chance to tour the labs and see the multi-million dollar equipment used in the process.

Tour guide and intern Susan Zhao told students that security and a sterile facility was a key aspect of the institute.

“We do not want to give any doctors or hospitals material unless we know it is completely sterile,” she said. “The last thing we want is for someone to get an infection from the transplant tissue.

Zhao showed the students how organs can be de-cellurized to create organic scaffolds and said they could also print the scaffolds using a mixture of natural and synthetic materials.

Following the tour of that facility the students movedseveral blocks up the street to the new Forsyth Tech bio-science labs at 525@vine where they learned about the variety of jobs available in bio-sciences and had a chance to ask about how they could follow an educational path to get those jobs.

West Stokes High School chemistry and physics teacher Leah Bishop said the trip was a great opportunity for her students.

“Being exposed to things like this gives them a chance to be exposed to future careers,” she said. “I think it is priceless for them.”

She noted that it was wonderful seeing research posters done by top scientists because it reinforced the processes she taught in her own classes.

“It is great that our kids can see what is in their back yard and learn about the opportunities like the partnerships that are happening here,” agreed West Stokes High School Principal Kevin Spainhour. “It is real science. The Rotarians have really provided a great opportunity.”

But Jarvis said that while the Rotary Club provided funding for the trip through a grant, Stokes County Schools Career Development and Internship Coordinator David Martin and Forsyth Tech Stokes County Operations Director Ann Watts had been integral in making the trip a reality.

“I wanted the students to know there was an opportunity for them right down the road,” said Martin. “Rotary jumped in and helped with the cost of the travel and substitutes and Forsyth Tech jumped in and helped create the itinerary.”

He noted that the trip helped not only the students who got to go, but also those who did not.

“They can carry their experience back to other students,” said Martin. “They can show them what we have just down the road.”

He said he had provided students with a short survey following the visit offering more information for those who might want to pursue a similar career.

“From there we will go with the juniors and look at further trips or possible job shadowing,” said Martin. “For the seniors it will have to happen pretty quick , but we will help any of them interested in pursuing bio-sciences further.”

Watts noted that Forsyth Tech was a great place to find those career pathways.

“We have biotechnology degrees and we have nanotechnology degrees as well,” she said. “We have lots of pathways for students.”

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

Forsyth Tech to extend hours of science lab

Beginning Thursday, Forsyth Technical Community College will extend the hours of its Science Skills Lab to accommodate students enrolled in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and biotechnology who also work full-time jobs.

The lab in its Oak Grove Center will be open between nine to 14 hours, seven days a week, said Michael Ayers, the college’s dean of the Math, Science and Technologies Division. Instructors will be available to help students when they use the lab, he said.

“Our students are often juggling one or two jobs and family commitments while attending Forsyth Tech,” Ayers said.

“Many of them have told us they would not be able to take science classes with labs were it not for the flexibility they have with the lab. This feedback is what led us to the decision to expand the lab’s accessibility for our students.”

The lab, which opened in the fall of 2013, was paid for with a $15 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Forsyth Tech said in a statement. More than 600 students have enrolled to work in the lab.

Cheryl Burrell, the lab’s coordinator, said that the lab’s extended hours will make it more convenient for students who want to visit the lab on weekends. Students who live outside of Winston-Salem will be able to complete all of their lab work in a one-day visit, she said.

“We are catering to students with unpredictable schedules,” Burrell said. “Students who have a 9-to-5 workday per week can come into the lab on weekends and get their labs fulfilled, and it won’t interrupt their regular work schedule.”

Sarah Dettloff of Winston-Salem, a biotechnology student at Forsyth Tech, said she will benefit from the lab’s extended hours.

“It helps me a lot,” said Dettloff, an assistant manager at Yankee Candles in Hanes Mall. “I can work in the lab at my own pace, and I work with other students here as well.”

Justin Campbell, a biotechnology student who also lives in Winston-Salem, said the lab’s extended hours will allow him to manage his job as a Forsyth Tech employee, his classes and his internship at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“I will have the flexibility to come in on evenings and in the early mornings, which is beneficial,” Campbell said.

Forsyth Tech Takes Unique Approach to Busy Students

FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth Tech Community College is taking an untraditional approach with their not so traditional students.

The college announced it would be extending their science skills lab, which is open seven days a week to help students.

“A number of these student have hectic schedules,” said Forsyth Tech biology instructor Cheryl Burrell. “Some have families, jobs. They also want to fulfill their academic goals.”

About 2 years ago, the college began the Science Skills Lab. Michael Ayers with the college says giving students the flexibility to complete their labs is important in helping them to succeed in school and in life.

“Allows them to meet that challenge without having a very set schedule,” said Ayers.

The lab is open seven days a week, for nine to 14 hours a day with an instructor on hand to help students during those times. Ayers hopes it will be beneficial to those using the lab.

So far, the instructors at the lab have helped 600 students. This semester they’ll help more than 200 students. They’ve also added an additional classroom to help accommodate more students.

“We help them to stay in the course because otherwise they probably would have dropped, if they had to come into a traditional lab with a set time,” said Burrell.

Students have set times through the school’s advisor system or at the lab.

Four Characteristics of Job and Career Development

In 2000, north central North Carolina possessed a strong, diverse economy. It was a national and international center for textiles and apparel, furniture and tobacco – manufactured products which had seen the area through the economic ups and downs of almost a century dominated by manufacturing and related service sectors.

Fast forward 15 years of trade adjustments and technological disruptions and witness a new economy dominated by clinical health, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and other emerging technologies.

While the particulars of these legacy industries will look different in other states and other regions, economic regions across the country have experienced the same dilemma – where to find economic opportunity and jobs, how best to position a region to the jobs of tomorrow, and how to address the skills gap that has occurred with the transition.

While the answers vary, the characteristics of job development for the region and career development for individuals are markedly similar.

Jobs and job preparation are located in the regional economy. According to Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings Institute, 68 percent of two-year college alumni stay in the area of their college, compared to 42 percent of baccalaureate alumni. Regional workforce requirements at higher educational levels benefit more from mobility, while the skilled technical workforce, typically the product of the community college, is derived from the pipeline built in the region.

Regional clusters and niche development define the broad workforce pipeline that must be built in an area. Seattle and Wichita are homes to major aviation and aerospace facilities that require FAA certified technicians. Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina are grounded in IT hardware, software, and services. California, Massachusetts, and North Carolina compete in the biosciences and pharmaceutical sectors.

In each of these cases, and many others, curricula and clusters of curricula have been developed by community colleges to meet the need for highly-skilled technicians. The content of such curricula are based on labor market analysis that is becoming increasingly robust.

For example, in the Winston-Salem, N.C. area, the largest employment sector is health care with large academic and community medical centers as the focal points for clinical and non-clinical jobs, including biotechnology and pharmaceutical research.

In response, Forsyth Technical Community College has grown existing and initiated new associate degree programs in nursing, imaging modalities, and therapeutic technologies (e.g., respiratory technology, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine), all grounded in math, biology, and chemistry. From these curricular strengths, an associate degree in biotechnology evolved – the largest such program in North Carolina. Success in biotechnology led to a significant role in the state BioNetwork training initiative, and in 2005 the founding of the U.S. Department of Labor sponsored National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce.

Regions and communities also see workforce needs develop around niche sectors that are even more specific, albeit smaller, than those that grow around broader economic clusters. Motorsports is a $6 billion industry in North Carolina that attracts young people who want careers in the field. Community college students learn skills in welding, metal fabrication, machining, and assembly and develop a knowledge of physical principles such as torque and thermodynamics. They exit with skills applicable to racing teams or other advanced manufacturing operations.

In Winston-Salem, a segment of biosciences is creating job opportunities and the need for skilled technicians – tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine, its partnership with the Department of Defense, and its spin-off companies and research requires lab and research technicians well-versed in clean room techniques and processes, 3-D bioprinting, and other technologies — in short, associate degree graduates who are job-ready to work in a growing niche at cutting edge of translational science.

Another common characteristic of the jobs that are being created in current economic recovery is their grounding in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

The new workforce in clinical health, advanced manufacturing, IT, or biotechnology, and those working at the intersection of these sectors (where innovation is driving new products and processes), requires a higher skill and knowledge level than those who were displaced in the recession.
The mill operations, assembly, and processing of the past have been replaced by advanced manufacturing – manufacturing driven by science and technology. Commodity manufacturing has moved off-shore and is not returning with the reshoring that is occurring today. The careers that once began with a high school shop class now require associate degrees with strong competencies in math, physical or biological sciences, and IT as the entry point.

Not only are STEM skills needed for technical fields, they are respected in many others. Carnevale and Hanson point out that while “only 5 percent of all jobs are considered STEM occupations, 40 percent of all jobs ‘value’ STEM competencies.”

A third characteristic of preparation for the workplace today is the need for clearly defined pathways. With the need for increased knowledge and skill for career entry and progression, potential college students and current students must define a career goal and pathway early – get on the path and stay there.

Students are increasingly bearing the brunt of cost increases of college and with student debt becoming an increasingly serious individual and societal concern, K-12 systems, community colleges, universities, government agencies, relevant non-profits, and employers must come together to create pathways that have multiple on-off ramps, recognized multiple credentials with labor market value, and that incorporate experiential learning as having academic value. Together partners can have a collective impact greater than the sum of its parts.

Finally, education for today’s economy must be data driven. For the past decade or longer, student outcomes and especially completion have driven the conversation about quality in education in general and community college education in particular. The next question is completion or graduation to what end?

Providers of student information systems and learning management systems are increasing the analytic capabilities of their data management and, along with new entry, Civitas, are taking descriptive capabilities to the next level of predictive analytics.

Beyond these tools, community colleges need to assess labor market outcomes, the end of completion. Economic research and data firms like EMSI and Burning Glass are supporting this effort taking the college’s value-add assessment to a new level.

[(Part of this blog were previously presented at the Aspen Institute/Achieving the Dream Community College Presidents’ Symposium: Working with Employers to Create Sustained Economic Impact, November 15-17, 2015)]

Forsyth Tech to Open Multidisciplinary Science Lab 7 Days a Week to Meet Students’ Scheduling Needs

Forsyth Tech students enrolled in Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, Physiology and Biotechnology courses will soon have more flexibility to fulfill required science lab classes. Beginning January 7, 2016, the college’s state-of-the-art Science Skills Lab (SSL) will extend its hours of operation to between nine and 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with instructors on hand to assist students whenever the lab is open. The lab is the first of its kind in the country to operate on such a broad scale in higher education, including two- and four-year schools, according to Michael Ayers, dean of the Math, Science and Technologies division.

ssl students

The SSL, which first opened in the fall of 2013, was funded by a $15 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant made to Forsyth Tech by the U.S. Department of Labor. Since then, enrollment has increased each semester. More than 600 students, including many from surrounding counties and other schools, have enrolled in the lab, which allows students to complete projects at their convenience.

The lab’s flexible hours and multidisciplinary offerings have already proven so popular that Forsyth Tech has decided to continue funding the lab’s expanded schedule after the TAACCCT grant ends next year.

In addition to giving students the flexibility to schedule a science lab around their personal and work schedules, students save money, too: course materials related to the lab are available online and free of charge. Students are also allowed to complete more than one lab in a day, saving them time and money in transportation costs.

“Our students are often juggling one or two jobs and family commitments while attending Forsyth Tech,” says Ayers. “Many of them have told us they would not be able to take science classes with labs were it not for the flexibility they have with the SSL. This feedback is what led us to the decision to expand the lab’s accessibility for our students.”

ssl lab

Local employers like it, too, because employees can upgrade their skills, further their education and take advantage of professional development opportunities after their work day ends—and sometimes during work hours.

“This is the future for science labs,” Ayers says. “Flexibility and accessibility are the names of the game going forward when it comes to training and educating our growing bioscience workforce.”

Starting in January 2016, the SSL will be open according to the following schedule:

Monday/Tuesday: 8 am – 10 pm
Wednesday: 7 am – 9 pm
Thursday: 8 am – 9 pm
Friday: 7 am – 8 pm
Saturday/Sunday: 8 am – 5 pm
The SSL is located in the Oak Grove Center, Room 2539, on the college’s Main Campus, 2100 Silas Creek Parkway.

Forsyth Tech’s spring semester begins on Thursday, January 7, 2016. Students interested in taking bioscience classes and labs are encouraged to apply to the college as soon as possible. For more information, contact Tami Sappenfield at 336.734.7677 or tsappenfield[at]

Burke/Joines Scholarship will pay full tuition for deserving high school senior

Mayor Allen Joines and Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian H. Burke announced next month they will kick off a joint scholarship program that will sponsor inner city high school students to attend Forsyth Technical Community College.

Following a press conference Thursday, Dec. 3 Burke, who is the mastermind of the program said, “The program is designed to assist those who have the will, but not the means to attend college.

“The effort is essentially a employment initiative,” she continued. “A lot of taxpayers aren’t getting the jobs that are here because they don’t have the qualifications, this program will allow them to get the qualifications to find a good-paying job.”

The Burke/Joines Scholarship, will pay full tuition for up to six semesters for a resident of public housing or, who have a household income at, or below the poverty level.

Applicants must also be a senior at a Winston-Salem Forsyth County high school or be able to complete a GED course before starting at Forsyth Tech.

The first scholarship will be funded by Joines and Burke. They hope to raise money from local businesses to support four additional scholarships for the term starting in the fall of 2016.

Scholarship recipients will have to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in an approved course of study, participate in internships while at Forsyth Tech and agree to meet with a mentor who will monitor and guide the student.

Recipients must also agree to make a concentrated effort to obtain employment after they complete their studies.

Although the application process has not yet been finalized a number of students and parents seemed interested in the program when told about it.

“I would defiantly be interested in that program,” said Tyquan Williams a student at Carver High School. “I have a while before I’m a senior but it’s good to know that I do have that option.”

A number of parents mentioned a scholarship would be a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. Mayor Allen Joines said education is a key factor to ending the cycle of poverty, and a number of other social issues.

“This effort plays into a number of social issues that we are working on right now such as homelessness, poverty and crime,” he continued. “I’m very excited about this program.”

“These scholarships will have a multiplying effect when you realize they can set the recipients apart and their future children on a new path.”

Executive vice president and chief operating officer for Forsyth Tech Rachel Desmarais said, she was thrilled to continue the school’s relationship with Mayor Pro Tempore Burke.

“She is a longtime supporter of students and education. We are excited to begin this venture,” she said. As we all know, education is the key, enabling people to come to Forsyth Tech to get those relevant job skills is very important.