Getting to the Finish Line

Holly Pegram Photo

Holly Pegram has wanted to be a nurse since she graduated from high school. Yet, life happened and it took her through some difficult times, before she reached Forsyth Tech. As a non-traditional student, now her dream is right around the corner!

Holly knew she would have to pay for school with either loans or scholarships. As a single mom, the bills don’t stop when you’re in school. As she said, it was tougher being in nursing school while trying to support her family.

Last summer, in her 3rd semester, she and her family were still struggling financially. She saw where she  could apply for the Finish Line Grant through NC Works at Goodwill Industries. These funds can be used for anything that deals with “life.”

Holly was able to use the funds to pay for her children to do summer camp while she completed that semester.

This spring, she is preparing to graduate with her Associate Degree in Nursing and she is determined to walk across that stage! Forsyth Tech helped her achieve her dream. Holly hopes to continue to keep moving forward to get her bachelor’s, and hopefully, master’s degree in Nursing.

“Education is something she will have the rest of my life and no one can take it away from me,” said Holly. Now my children and family see I made it through her nursing education to reach her goal and you can, too.”

The Finish Line grant helped Holly take one more step toward graduation and she said she is very grateful.

In partnership with Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board, Forsyth Tech students who have completed at least 50% of their program of study and are in good academic standing can apply for this grant to help them cross the finish line to graduation. Approval is subject to eligibility and the availability of funds.

The maximum award is $1,000. Please note that Finish Line Grants can help with tuition and fees, but it is not meant to be an ongoing source of tuition funding.

For more information on Finish Line grants, click here.

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Forsyth Technical Community College Announces Herbalife signing with Apprenticeship Program

Herbalife signing with Apprenticeship Program

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, November 11 – 17, Forsyth Tech recognizes
all our employee-partners who have joined LEAP@ForsythTech.

Winston-Salem, NC – Forsyth Tech celebrates National Apprenticeship Week by signing another employer partner for the Learn and Earn Apprenticeship at Forsyth Tech (LEAP@ForsythTech) program. Herbalife, with headquarters based in Winston-Salem, N.C., will provide students an opportunity to combine on-the-job training with technical education while earning an income.

LEAP@Forsyth Tech is a structured collaboration between Forsyth Tech as the apprenticeship sponsor and instructional provider and local companies committed to employing the apprentices throughout their educational journey.

“We are thrilled that Herbalife is partnering with us through LEAP@Forsyth Tech to help fulfill Forsyth Tech’s mission as a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives and transforming communities,” said President of Forsyth Tech, Janet Spriggs. “With all our employee-partners who are collaborating with us through LEAP, we will expand the skilled workforce in our region, provide a strong positive impact on our economy and increase our ability to attract new and expanding industries to our community.”

Currently, Forsyth Tech works Progress Rail, A Caterpillar Company; Siemens Energy. Inc.; Thermcraft and Triumph Actuation Systems, LLC. to provide customized training programs for potential employees. Utilizing existing relationships while nurturing new ones, Forsyth Tech will communicate the benefit of being an employer partner with our sponsored program to train the workforce of today and the future.

“Herbalife has benefitted greatly throughout the years from our partnership with Forsyth Technical Community College,” Gene Corbett, vice president human resources and talent, Herbalife. “The Apprenticeship Program is another step in our long-standing relationship as we both understand the value in developing future talent for our business.”

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Being Naturally Curious Led her on a Trip to Turkey Eight days immersed as a student journalist in Istanbul

Shirin Alhroob

From the time you meet Shirin Alhroob, with her outgoing personality and inquisitive nature, you want to hear her story. What’s more, she has many interesting tales to tell. Originally from Jordan, Shirin earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Jordan in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
“I received my bachelor’s degree in agriculture and was working as an Extension Training Officer with the Arab Organization for Agriculture Development, even helping in authoring books about agricultural processes in National Center for Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer (NCARTT). When we moved to the United States, I wanted to do something to have a more secure future for myself here,” Shirin said.

Deciding to go back to school, Shirin will earn her degree in information technology programming and software development. She said, “My two-year degree at Forsyth Tech will take me further, and offer me greater opportunities for a career.”
Shirin tells her sons, ages 14, 12 and 6, that education will give them a good life. Following her lead, one son said, “Mom, I want to go through a two-year school first because I see your example.”
As Shirin began classes at Forsyth Tech, she also was curious about what other opportunities and clubs she could get involved with on campus. She became a student ambassador, PTK Alpha Mu Rho Chapter’s president, a work-study student at the Education Career Center on the West Campus and became a Vice Chair at the City of Winston-Salem College Advisory Board. As she became more involved on campus, she found out about the Pulitzer Center.
Forsyth Tech joined the Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium two years ago, which is a network of universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs), and graduate schools of journalism and public health.

The Pulitzer Center offers opportunities and scholarships to journalists and student fellows to report on projects that focus on topics and regions of global importance, with an emphasis on issues that have gone unreported or under-reported in mainstream American media.

Intrigued by the opportunity to write with the Pulitzer Center, Shirin began to investigate what she could report on and where. She knew her family would be traveling to Jordan in the summer so she considered proximity and her options. She wondered if more women were involved in information technology in other countries. Her proposal was to report on “The Role of Women in IT in Turkey.”
Shirin applied, interviewed and was accepted by the Pulitzer Center. She was only one of 43 students from the United States and Canada to be selected as a journalist for the Pulitzer Center. This past July, she spent eight days talking with women at both the Bahcesehir University and at the Istanbul Technical University where she met with a STEM club. Shirin discovered there were many similarities between women in the information technology field in Turkey and in the United States. Some dreamed of graduating and going to work for Google and, like the IT field in the United States, it is mostly a male-dominated field in Turkey.
“Many women were afraid to talk with me at first,” Shirin explained, “so I had to make them trust me; if they didn’t want to be recorded, I wouldn’t record them.” She told them she was studying information technology in the United States, and demonstrated the connection with her research.”
Shirin said it was normal to have some fear, you have to remember where you are. “You are in a foreign country and do not speak the language.” Yet, she said the people were welcoming when she explained she wanted to explore their culture. She also worked with an American journalist in Turkey who was affiliated with the Pulitzer Center.
Overall, Shirin’s experience had a huge impact on her. “It really strengthened my skills in learning to relate to people in another culture and opened my mind.” She now has many friends from Turkey connecting with her on LinkedIn and she is learning to speak Turkish.
As this year’s Forsyth Tech’s President of Phi Theta Kappa, Shirin will discuss her experience in Turkey at the Carolinas Region Leadership Conference of Phi Theta Kappa in November.

Shirin Alhroob from Forsyth Technical Community College answers a question while Mariana Rivas from Texas Christian University, Taylor Damann from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Cammie Behnke from Elon University listen
Caption – Shirin Alhroob from Forsyth Technical Community College answers a question while Mariana Rivas from Texas Christian University, Taylor Damann from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Cammie Behnke from Elon University listen. Image by Nora Moraga-Lewy. United States, 2019.

Shirin Alhroob from Forsyth Technical Community College answers a question while Mariana Rivas from Texas Christian University, Taylor Damann from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Cammie Behnke from Elon University listen

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Rockets to the Rescue

STEM Prep Summer Program People

STEM Prep Summer Program
The culmination of the Forsyth Tech Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Prep Summer Program was the Rocket Launch on Friday, Aug. 9. Four teams of four to five students competed in launching an air-powered cardboard rocket, using mathematical analyses of weight, force, thrust and aerodynamic forces.

“This week-long experience from Aug. 5-9 in STEM not only touched on a foundation of academic concepts for rocket building, but also gave 19 students opportunities to build relationships & visit STEM field industries in downtown Winston-Salem,” said STEM advisor/navigator Tandeka Boko.

The National Science Foundation along with the Forsyth Tech Foundation, provided support for this program for student populations defined as historically under-represented in STEM disciplines (URM STEM students). These include the following students: African-Americans, Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders. Participants included a majority of 11th and 12th grade high school students, along with one 10th grader and a few current STEM community college students.

Participants had a myriad of STEM experiences, including data analyses, microscopic analysis of Pond Water Biology Lab, coding in Python Technology Lab, introduction to Cybersecurity, performing Enzyme Catalysis experiments in Chemistry Lab, demonstration of Chromatography concepts and analysis technologies, and Science Skills Lab Measuring Techniques including pipetting.

Students also took a tour of the Biotech Lab of Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter, a tour of Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, and had conversations with the Dean of College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education at Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and post-graduate students about applications of Math, Physics, Engineering, and Technology. Students also met and received information from Forsyth Tech’s Dean of the Center for Transformative Learning, Education Support Services and Equity, a Program Staff Assistant of Educational Partnerships and Community Engagement and, the Student Engagement Coordinator of Honor Societies.

The Rockinairs Company, the White team, won the bid for the purchase of their rocket. On day three, this team adjusted the weight and variables of their rocket and their rocket performance improved the most from the first launch of 19 feet to 90 feet (overshot of the 75-foot target) and then 77 feet, almost at the target. On Friday, this team hit the target on their first attempt! They worked together and made necessary adjustments for a successful launch. Members of the Rockinairs Company said the week was an “eye-opening, new experience.” One member also said, “I want to get a Master’s in those two Ps, Pharmacology and Physiology, so that I can work on muscle conditions.”

The Rocket Company, the Green team, won the award for the best sales pitch presentation. This team related their rocket to various math and physics concepts. Their presentation was precise with the variables in the launch. They worked together as a team in their presentation with each member contributing.

One of the members of STML, Inc, the Orange Team, said, “I have had a wonderful and refreshing experience. I have learned a great deal about STEM fields as well as Biomedical Engineering. Taking a tour through the Innovation Quarter gave me a broader concept of the kind work that can take place within STEM fields. I may very well consider Biomedical Engineering as my collegiate course of study.”
One member of the Cincos Company, the Pink Team, said, “I now know what I want to do. I want to get an MD-PhD.” Other members wrote the following, in their “Night Work” reflections, “I learned that even though you may have one milliliter in one graduated cylinder, that doesn’t mean it is exactly one milliliter in the pip-pet.” “Today in STEM Prep, I learned how to test for proteins and glucose in a urinalysis. If I were to become a scientist, I would definitely have to use it.”

STEM Prep staff included Math Coaches, Jeanie Clark, Matthew Reader, Dr. Gary Byrd and Dexter Morgan. Volunteer staff included STEM Student and FT Student Ambassador, Zabed Muriuki and STEM Fellow, Harmony Valiente. There was a great deal of preparatory support provided by the following Math, Science and Technology (MST) and, Business and Information Technologies (BIT) Division faculty and lab technicians: Ben Novak, Dr. Lucien Houenou, Thomas Brown, Samuel Dorsett, Dr. Jason Gagliano, Dr. Travis Russel, Rebecca Ober, Kelly Sassin and Dr. William Clodfelter.

Carol Wall-Brown, mother of participant Jackson Brown said, “The benefit of this program is that often under-represented minority students don’t have a clue there is a whole ocean of STEM opportunities for them. I appreciated this program offered to high school and community college students and hope this will be held again.”

Other comments from parent surveys included the following:

“I was thrilled at the excitement my son showed when I would pick him up and ask about his day and what he did and learned.”

“My son was exposed to different aspects of science and technology. He is excited about looking into a career whereby he can explore science, math and sports.”

“What I liked most about this program was the opportunity that you gave my child to have this experience. Our children need more exposure to programs like this. They really don’t know about these opportunities or these majors. Also, it gave my child the opportunity to see and meet kids that looked like him that are performing at a high level in school. Thanks for all that you do for our kids.”

Kids Jumping
Students in classroom

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Expanding Perspectives Beyond the Classroom

Group with volunteers Picture

Global Leadership Experience.
Forsyth Technical Community College partnered with Kernersville Cares for Kids (KCK) to hold the first Global Leadership Experience, August 5th – 7th at the Grady P. Swisher Center in Kernersville. Nineteen middle school students were chosen for their leadership skills to participate in the conference. They learned about career mapping, business, entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

A rising 8th grade student from East Forsyth Middle School, Ian, said, “The camp was very fulfilling and helped me develop skills to start my own business.” Ian said his favorite part of the camp was the field trip to Salem One, a packaging, print, direct marketing and logistics company in Winston-Salem. The students observed a business operation in action using some of the same lessons they were learning in class.

Twins in the class, Corinne and Carmen, rising 7th grade students also from East Forsyth Middle School said, “The best part of the camp was making new friends from other schools and learning how we can start our own custom design shoe business.”
A volunteer with the camp, Deborah Sutton, who is an adjunct instructor and a KCK coach at Glenn High School said, “I’m usually with older students, so teaching middle school students is fun, they are happy go lucky and ask a million questions.”
Alicia Cone, a KCK coach at East Forsyth Middle School and camp volunteer, said her experience taught her some new things as well. “The students had great creative ideas, they all want to be entrepreneurs! Plus, they gained leadership skills that they can take back and apply in their schools.”

Coordinated by L. Renee Jessup Rogers, department chair, Accounting and Business Administration, and retired department chair, Deana Ray, the camp inspired students to expand their ideas from a local viewpoint to a global perspective.

“I’m teaching the very same material that I use in my adult classes at Forsyth Tech. I just modify it so it is applicable to the KCK leaders. I know they are comprehending the information because they are paying attention and asking good questions,” said Rogers. “We had great support this year from the parents, the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School System, Junior Achievement, Truliant, Cakes and All Things Yummy, the Forsyth Tech Foundation, Allan Younger, Forsyth Tech Small Business Center and Insight Human Services. We hope we will get the resources to hold this again next year.”

The conference was free to students in the KCK program who had to apply and write an essay on leadership. KCK is a joint partnership between local business owners, town officials, non-profit agencies, the Kernersville Police Department, school administration and concerned private citizens to help youth in the community be successful and live healthy, happy and drug-free lives.

Ian PictureCorinne and Carmen Picture
Students in classroom

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Childcare Is an Advantage for Forsyth Tech Employees

Kesa Jessup Picture

“Having childcare where you work is an immense convenience factor”, said Kesa Jessup, Student Retention Manager at Forsyth Tech. Her daughter, Kalli, started at the Carol L. Danforth Early Childhood Lab School when she was 3 ½ years old.

“She had been going to ‘Grandmother’s Camp’ up until that time,” Kesa said. “Then, it was time for her to learn to play with other kids.”

As an only child, Kalli had more occasions to interact with adults than with other children so as Kesa described, “she was not a shrinking violet!” Even though full of confidence when she started, Kalli learned more about how to engage with people closer to her age. Now as one of the older children, she has her chance to show the younger children how to relate to others.
Kalli, now 5 years old, completed kindergarten this past spring and is spending her second summer at the lab school. She knew her alphabet, colors and numbers before she went to kindergarten. She continues learning throughout the summer, getting individualized attention from the staff. The staff observe how children learn and connect with each other.

“The family atmosphere at the lab school is one of the reasons I like having Kalli here,” Kesa said. “I can hear her from my office! The staff knows Kalli and gives me great feedback about her learning and playing.”

Kesa notes that Kalli flourishes at the center, not only in her learning skills but in her artistic initiative in painting, singing and dancing.

“She loves to play dress up and pretend she is Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony or one of the Disney Descendants,” Kesa said. “She assigns who I’m supposed to be when we are playing. She’s a bundle of energy and I’m confident she’s happy here.”

For more information on the childcare grants or to get an application, go to

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Grants Help Ease Burden of Childcare Costs for Student-Parents

Amanda James Picture

Childcare is expensive, especially if you are going back to school. At Forsyth Tech, there is a solution. Under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, eligible student-parents at Forsyth Technical Community College may receive up to 70 percent reimbursement at a licensed center. Forsyth Tech received the grant last year as part of the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS).

Students who need care for children ages 3-5 years may use grant stipends at the Carol L. Danforth Early Childhood Lab School on Forsyth Tech’s main campus. Students who need care for children ages 0 to 2 years may use stipends at licensed centers approved by the Lab School.
Amanda James started back to school at Forsyth Tech in August 2018. “When I heard about the grant in SOAR (Success through Orientation, Advising and Registration), I looked into it right away,” James said. “The grant helped me tremendously. It paid for childcare and enabled me to fulfill my educational dreams of going back to school.”

James said her daughter, Amira, loves the lab school. She’s out of school for the summer but asks to come to childcare every day. Amira smiles all the time she’s interacting with childcare providers.
“I’m also very impressed with the variety of the educational programs at the lab school.” Amira gets one-on-one attention and instruction at the lab school which makes James comfortable knowing her child is getting quality education. The Carol L. Danforth Early Childhood Lab School is a licensed five-star childcare facility. Plus, she feels the staff welcomes her whenever she wants to stop by and see her daughter.

James is studying human resources and ultimately would like to continue her education at Winston-Salem State University for a degree in social work, specifically working with children.
For more information on the childcare grants or to get an application, go to

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Always Maintaining his Cool

Keith Simpson and Cam Stone

Careers in trades are rapidly becoming some of the best opportunities for the future. As baby boomers reach retirement age in those occupations, companies need to find replacements of highly-skilled, talented employees.

Based on research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for other occupations. Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive employment growth, therefore creating good job opportunities for HVACR technicians.

Companies are confident they will find qualified graduates at Forsyth Technical Community College because some of those baby boomers trained here. Keith Simpson, Service Manager at Professional Air Systems in Rural Hall, N.C. said, “When I graduated from Forsyth Tech in 1980, HVAC jobs were scarce. Now I’m recruiting at the college because we need more skilled technicians and I know the level of instruction they receive.”

One of the students Simpson recruited, Cam Stone, received his diploma in HVAC in 2018. A graduate of North Davidson High School, Stone knew he wanted a career in a field where he could have “hands-on” experience. He applied to the HVAC program at Forsyth Tech and eighteen months later he had a certificate. He was hired as an HVAC technician before he graduated.

“When Cam started the class, he had the ‘it’ factor,” said Dwight Cornelison, program coordinator for Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration. “I wish I had 20 more students like him; he listened and put forth the effort.”

Simpson agreed. When he gave out applications in Cornelison’s class, he only selected one, Stone. He looks for talent and specifically students who are willing to learn from other technicians the way the company wants the job completed.

“One of my favorite parts of the job is working with the team,” Stone said. “With this job, we have each other’s backs. Sometimes the situation can be dangerous as we are working with high voltage. It’s not only HVAC, it’s plumbing and electrical controls. You have to respect each other and the equipment.”

“I like learning something new every day and I want to go as far as I can in this field,” Stone said.

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Recognizing His Digital Skills Beyond the Classroom

Asa Gordon

Winning a national award at SkillsUSA last year in video game design gave Asa Gordon the confidence to compete again this year in digital animation and 3D modeling. As he and his teammate, Alondra Chavez, won first place in the state competition in April, they are on track again this year to compete in the national competition in June, in Louisville, Kentucky. In fact, SkillsUSA was more than a competition as Gordon learned from another team about a game engine which he will soon share with architecture students.

It didn’t take long for Gordon to learn that studying in college can be more challenging than in high school. When he didn’t get into the digital effects program right away, he began taking general education classes. “I brought my high school work ethic to college of waiting until the last minute and realized that wasn’t working…I only passed one class that semester!”

He quickly turned things around and would spend hours in the classroom, outside of class, doing research and tutorials to expand his technical skills. That is most likely what landed Gordon a job as a laboratory technician for the digital effects and animation lab.

Gordon shared, “I had my application for Wendy’s with me at school to apply for a job after class. Then Mr. Burns (former department chair of Digital Effects and Animation) called me and offered me the job as a lab tech. I was so excited I didn’t even ask if it was a paid position!”

Getting noticed outside the department, Gordon’s skills preceded him. When a local entrepreneur, Bianca Woodberry, was interested in working on a product development project with Forsyth Tech, she contacted David Dinkins, department chair of Advanced Manufacturing. Dinkins contacted John Kelly, program coordinator of Digital Effects, who said Gordon was the one for the project. Gordon took ownership for designing a prototype and went from concept to development, working with Woodberry. Her product will launch this fall.

Gordon’s family is originally from Guyana, South America, and moved to New York before Asa was born. They moved to Winston-Salem when he was eight. Asa’s goal for his future was to work in video gaming and move back to New York. However, he’s made so many connections here, he feels he will stay in N.C. for a while.

With the variety of skills he has developed at Forsyth Tech, he is re-thinking his future options. “I’m going where the wind takes me,” he laughed.

Following graduation in the spring, he won’t travel far as he will be teaching a game engine called “Unreal Engine” to architecture students at Forsyth Tech during summer school. They will use the game engine to learn more about 3D modeling and rendering architectural plans. Asa says he continues to learn different ways to digitally represent his designs.

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How High a Stokes Falcon Can Fly

Tori Hicks

Having attended Stokes Early College since the 9th grade, Tori Hicks seems wiser than her years. One of her instructors, Elizabeth Guiles, English teacher, Senior Class Sponsor and proclaimed “Graduation Guru,” described Hicks as never letting her situation or environment control her attitude. Despite difficult circumstances, and sometimes working two jobs, Hicks managed to be in the top percentage of her graduating class.

Tori demonstrated incredible determination and diligence, showing other students just how high a Stokes Falcon can fly when she is willing to put in the work and take advantage of Stokes’ programs. In addition to her strong work ethic, Tori embodies kindness and compassion towards her fellow classmates and teachers. She is a young woman of strong character and great heart, which will carry her far in her nursing career goals.

“As the oldest of five children, I wanted to set an example for my brothers and sisters and do well in school,” said Hicks. “In the future, I would like to come back to Stokes County and give back to the community that helped raise me.”

A member of the Student Government Association during her junior and senior years, Hicks was also on the prom committee. She graduated summa cum laude and was the graduation speaker for her senior class. Hick’s future plans include enrolling in the Associate Degree in Nursing program at Forsyth Technical Community College to become a Registered Nurse (RN).

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