Staying on the Road to Healthy Living

Liz Hronek and business collaborators

If your New Year’s resolutions included starting your journey to health and wellness, here’s a fellow traveler you need to meet.

Liz Hronek has been down this road for most of her life, dealing with her weight and her relationship with food. Even though she was active when she was young, at 8-years-old, her doctor told her she was fat and needed to go on a diet. She went to Weight Watchers but felt the program wasn’t conducive to embrace the needs of children. Besides, she explained, “I was traumatized and didn’t value anything about myself.”

Caption for the photo: President of Forsyth Tech, Dr. Janet Spriggs; Mayor Allen Joines; Miss Fit Boss, Liz Hronek, and Director of the Small Business Center, Allan Younger speaking at the reception for Ms. Hronek on Jan. 9, 2019.

Throughout her teenage years, Hronek continued to gain weight and in her sophomore year of college, she weighed 300 lbs. One day in class, she thought she had an accident. However, when a friend took her to the campus health center, she found out she was pregnant. Hronek gave birth to a baby girl the next day.

With her daughter, she realized she was responsible not only for herself, but for her daughter’s life and outlook and wanted her to grow up with a different perspective. “I got to the realization that I’m kind of important,” said Hronek. “Everybody has a purpose and so do I.” She knew she had something awesome to share with others.

In 2008, she started a low-carb, high protein diet and lost 50 pounds. Then Hronek went on to work with a personal trainer entering bodybuilding competitions and lost another 101 pounds.

Becoming passionate about personal training, Hronek became certified in both personal training and nutrition therapy. She attended classes at the Small Business Center at Forsyth Technical Community College and said, “I couldn’t have opened Miss Fit Boss without the support of the Small Business Center.”

Launching Miss Fit Boss online, she now coaches clients both online and 1-on-1 about fitness, weight and nutrition, knowing they can relate to each other through similar struggles.

“My goal is to encourage and motivate others; I want to empower millions to improve their health,” said Hronek. “I’m also interested in collaborating with anyone interested in helping decrease the level of childhood obesity.”

Hronek’s oldest daughter is now 13 and she has another daughter who is 4-years-old. “I want to be a role model for them, showing them that I’m committed to my health and hope this teaches them beneficial skills for the rest of their lives.”

On January 9, 2019, the Small Business Center held a reception to honor Hronek who has been featured on “Good Morning America,” and in the January 14, 2019 edition of People magazine.

Perseverance Regardless of Challenges

Evanisto Amador Guerrero

For Evanisto Amador Guerrero, walking across the stage at Forsyth Technical Community College on Friday, December 14 to receive his Adult High School equivalency was the culmination of a dream.

A dream especially significant to him now as he is battling Berger’s disease, a rare form of IGA nephropathy or kidney disease. Guerrero has only 38 percent use of both kidneys. He is in treatment and hopes to soon get on the list for a kidney transplant.

At first, Guerrero had a challenging time getting the treatment he needed but now has a physician at Wake Forest Medical Center and is checked every three months. He watches his diet, takes care of himself and wants to have the strength and courage to improve his health for his wife and two daughters, ages 14 and 16.

When Guerrero first came to the United States from Mexico City in 2001, he had many hopes and dreams  ̶  completing high school was one and opening his own restaurant was another.

Guerrero achieved that goal when he opened Papa Nachos Cantina in Pavilions Shopping Center in Winston-Salem in 2010. He said he was very busy but happy. That dream, unfortunately, was cut short when he became ill in 2017 and was forced to sell the restaurant.

“I enjoyed the restaurant, but soon it became too difficult to run Papa Nachos with the stress of taking care of my health and my family,” said Guerrero. “We had to face the challenge to make a big change and that is what we did.”

When he sold the restaurant, Guerrero got a job in accounts payable and purchasing for a local company, while he was going to school and getting treatment. He persisted to accomplish another goal.

“Finishing my high school equivalency was the first step in continuing my education,” said Guerrero. “I want to pursue further education for my career perhaps in information technology. I want to make sure my daughters have that opportunity as well.”

His daughters have a great example to follow.

A Special Presentation to the NC Conference of English Instructors

Vetrone and Dr. Redfield

Finding uncommon ways to help students succeed is one of the commitments Dr. Kristin Redfield, Writing Program Coordinator at Forsyth Tech, makes to her students. In keeping with her teaching philosophy, when she submitted her proposal for a presentation at the NC Conference of English Instructors this past October, she had an idea for a unique presentation – bring a student who had been through the experience.

“The topic ‘But I Don’t Like Reading Stuff from Dead People!’ seemed to require a student’s perspective, plus I wanted to give a student a real-life presentation experience,” said Redfield. “I called the conference coordinator and asked if a Forsyth Tech student could present at the conference with me. She agreed.”

“It’s not often that arts and humanities students get to present to a group outside of their peers; it’s usually science, math and technology students who have those presentation opportunities,” said Redfield.

She thought about who would be a good candidate to discuss this unusual topic and then remembered Nick Vetrone from her American Literature class. Redfield knew he had critical thinking skills and enjoyed reading a variety of literature from both living and non-living authors.

Vetrone is currently a second-year College Transfer student, planning to graduate in the fall of 2018 and transfer to a four-year university.

“I thought I wanted to go into teaching, and having this real-life experience confirmed it for me. Having the chance to see first-hand if this is what I want to do with my career was inspiring,” said Vetrone. “I enjoyed the opportunity to explain our ideas and connect with educators outside of the college.”

Vetrone said he enjoyed working with Dr. Redfield to develop the presentation. He reports that she has a great teaching style, is student-driven, and likes to moderate a student-generated discussion.

Redfield said they composed the presentation together. “I was impressed that Nick was not afraid to share his ideas on the presentation and kept asking about rehearsals,” she chuckled.

In addition to the presentation, Dr. Redfield shared the participation guidelines that students use in the course to assess each other.

“Getting students to read and participate focuses on the innovative ways to make early American literature engaging, exciting, and relevant to today’s students,” said Anu Williams, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Division.  “Opportunities like this one are just one more way that Forsyth Tech is preparing students of today for the workplace of tomorrow.”

Photo Caption: Dr. Kristin Redfield and Nick Vetrone sharing their presentation.

North Carolina Work-Based Learning Association Announces Outstanding Employer

The award recipient being given the award

Forsyth Technical Community College Nominates Research Information Systems at Wake Forest Baptist Health for Collaboration on Work-Based Learning 

Getting work experience while still in school is an invaluable experience for students preparing for a career. At Forsyth Tech, the Work-Based Learning Department comprised of Beth Agnello, director and Danielle Rose, manager works with local businesses to offer real-world, on-the-job internship experiences to students. Businesses also benefit by identifying students who may become employees. One of the business partners who has worked closely with Work-Based Learning is Scott Rushing, director of Research Information Systems at Wake Forest Baptist Health.
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Forsyth Tech Offers Employees Paid Time Off Work to Give Back

Giving back is an important part of our mission here at Forsyth Tech. But for many employees, that can be hard to do, as volunteer time is spent after work hours or on the weekends. That’s why college leaders implemented a new community service program this year, giving employees another option to pitch in while on the clock. It allows them to take eight hours of paid time off annually to volunteer in their communities.
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Hacking for Good: Educating the Next Generation on Cutting Edge Cyber Security

cyber security student

Ariana Hernandez Noyola is learning about how to legally hack a computer!

“I’m learning about jobs in technology that help others,” Ariana says. “There are good hackers out there, and they protect people’s information.”

Ariana is a part of a group of rising 7th and 8th grade students, who got a taste of what it’s like to have a career in cyber security at Forsyth Tech’s GenCyber Camp this summer. Designed for both teachers and students, it was made possible by an $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Security Agency (NSA).

Training teachers

The first week of the camp equipped teachers with the training they need to learn how to code, program a computer, and improve cyber security teaching methods they can take back to their schools.

Cyber security teacherTen Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ teachers kicked off the week by learning how to program a Raspberry Pi. It’s a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. For many teachers, it was their first experience with programming.

“It’s great for beginners who are learning how to code,” explains Elerod Morris, who teaches at Carver High School and is also an instructor at Forsyth Tech. “It’s very engaging and user-friendly software. We’ll be able to take this back to our classrooms, and develop lesson plans that are interactive and collaborative.”

“One of the most rewarding experiences of the camp is working hands on,” says Lakeyia Ingram, a career counselor at Carver High School. “To know something this small possesses so much power is pretty amazing.”

Teachers were also able to learn about increasing cyber literacy for millennials.

“This knowledge opens so many career paths for students,” Lakeyia explains. “This is a wonderful opportunity to help them explore their potential talents.”

Coaching students

teachers and students at the GenCyber eventTeachers used the skills and knowledge they’d gained from their first week at camp to guide 30 students during the second week of camp. Students from low-performing schools were given preference during attendance selection.

“We want to give kids a solid foundation and future in cyber security and related fields,” explains Dr. Deanne Wesley, department chair, Davis iTEC Center. “Many of these students don’t have a computer at home, so their access is limited. One of our goals is to increase diversity and interest in cybersecurity.”

Teachers also showed students how to program their own Raspberry Pi.

“I’d never heard of a Raspberry Pi, but I got excited when I learned we were going to be able to program our own computers!” Ariana says. “It will help me in school.”

“When you have to put it together from scratch, it really helps you learn how it works,” says student James Bowman.

Students were also able to learn how to use the handheld computers to legally hack.

“We have to teach the next generation of students how to defend our country against cyber attacks, which are happening more and more frequently,” Dr. Wesley explains. “The camp not only increases interest in cybersecurity careers, but is also a great way to help students understand correct and safe online behavior.”

“It gets me thinking about my future, and what I want to pursue in college,” James says. “I think a job in IT would be rewarding and fun.”

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We Interrupt This Broadcast

Brandi Blanchard

Forsyth Technical Community College’s Broadcasting and Production Technology (BPT) program was born out of a need by a community partner. IMG College, a sports marketing and broadcast services company headquartered in Winston-Salem, came to Forsyth Tech in 2010 with a necessity for developing trained workers in this specialized area. The program began with only a Radio Diploma. It has since added an Associate of Applied Science degree. The program is home to a LPFM radio station, a television station, multimedia production suites, and a full lab of video editing suites. There have been many accomplishments during the past seven years, but faculty and staff say the most gratifying and validating facets of the program have come through their graduates and those that have gone through it.

A mind-blowing experience

Bob Gassett’s story is one that spans full circle at the college. It all began when IMG College accepted him into its internship program while completing his degree. Bob says hands-on instruction from industry professionals through Forsyth Tech’s partnership with IMG was key.

“I was able to learn more of the business side of things, how to handle and thrive in a professional environment, and was allowed to actually begin shadowing and running the board during baseball broadcasts for the University of Southern Mississippi,” Bob says.

After being one of the program’s first graduates in 2013, Bob was the first full-time employee IMG College hired right out of the program. He started in engineering, and worked his way up to Lead Technical Producer. Bob is now responsible for audio streaming on apps, websites, and digital mediums for the company’s more than 50 school broadcast networks.

“It was fantastic to be able to work in the environment in which I learned everything,” Bob says. “The whole thing was mind blowing, and it’s a great honor to be offered a full-time job to work alongside the people that had helped me with my education. I feel fortunate to have been educated, interned, and employed all in the same place.”

The will to never give up

Brandi Blanchard not only wanted to make a better life for her and her daughter, but also show her daughter that it’s never too late to go back to school. In 2012, the single mom—who says she always had an interest in television production—enrolled in the BPT program.

“I knew nothing about the field but immediately found my niche,” Brandi says. “By the end of the year, I was in the top of my class. I fell in love, and knew I was in the right place.”

Brandi completed the program in two years, graduating with an A.A.S. degree – all while working three part-time jobs! However, in order to pursue the career she really wanted, she knew a four-year degree was required. She was accepted into and started the Journalism/Mass Communication program at North Carolina A&T State University in the fall of 2014.

“The hands-on training I received at Forsyth Tech laid the groundwork for my courses at A&T,” Brandi says. “I graduated, with honors, in the spring of 2017.”

Brandi returned to her roots at Forsyth Tech, and is now a New Media and Production Specialist for the college’s Center for Transformative Learning. She’s using her degrees to produce and edit instructional videos for the college. She says pure determination, faith, and the support of family and her instructors at Forsyth Tech are what got her to where she is today.

“There were times I wanted to give up,” Brandi admits. “But the encouragement from BPT Program Coordinator Amy Davis-Moore and instructor Tom Logan helped me succeed.”

Dreams coming true

Fred McKoy’s dream of working in the nation’s #1 radio market is now a reality – thanks to the education he received at Forsyth Tech.

“It all started with Amy Davis-Moore and seeing her commitment to students’ success,” Fred says. “Once she recognizes your strengths, she’s great at nurturing that and advising you on the best path to align your talent with your goals.”

McKoy is now an associate producer in the on-air promotion and music departments at Sirius XM radio in New York City. He says the courses he took in the BPT program gave him the foundation he needed to succeed.

“It gave me access to resources that I would have otherwise not had,” Fred says. “I also received an education about industry history, fundamentals, guidelines and regulations. They’re factors that I feel are continuing to pay dividends for me now as I move further along in my career. Enrolling in this program is one of the best steps I’ve ever taken.”

Making the Right Call

Sherron Richardson

Sherron Richardson retired from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 2012, after faithfully serving thousands of children as a bus driver for 23 years. “I decided I wanted to go back into the workforce,” she says. “I wanted to have a chance to get out and not just stay at home.”

That’s when she decided she wanted to pursue a second career, and enrolled in Goodwill and Forsyth Tech’s Call Center Customer Service Class. “I love talking to people,” Richardson says. “Most of my work over the years has been using that skill. I knew I wanted to use it – but in a different way. This time, I needed the confidence to talk to people I don’t see.”

The six-week, 96-hour program is a partnership between Goodwill and Forsyth Tech. Goodwill’s IT Department provides the classroom space and workstations, and the class is taught by instructors from the college. “The class is completely hands-on,” said Nell Perry, who serves as the Business Center Coordinator of the Business and Industry Services with Forsyth Tech’s Economic & Workforce Development Division. “Students make, on average, about 300 outbound calls on behalf of local businesses who’ve agreed to be a part of the training. In Sherron’s class, they made calls on behalf of the Better Business Bureau, whose leaders were looking to update their records.”

The training includes everything from learning vocal pauses, to marketing products, to dealing with all types of customers. “Students learned to work with a variety of customers—from those that make you cry, to those that leave you smiling when you hang up the phone,” Perry said.

At the end of the class, students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be gainfully employed.

“Along the way, we also develop character,” Richardson says. “This program helps us choose to be successful with a common goal: we desire greatness.”

Find more information about the program, including how you can enroll, here.

Sherron Richardson doing a test call as part of the program

Sherron Richardson doing a test call as part of the program.