Seeing COVID-19 from another medical perspective

Lauren Tolbert Photo

Lauren Tolbert knows that social distancing and isolation creates more obstacles in recovery.

Winston-Salem, N.C. When Lauren Tolbert, licensed practical nurse decided to go to nursing school at Forsyth Tech, it was an inner calling for her. She wanted to work specifically with alcohol and chemically dependent patients because she can relate to what they are going through. She has seen addiction impact many of the lives around her including herself. February 20, 2020 marked her sixth anniversary of being clean.

Now during COVID-19, she’s serving on the front lines at the Addiction Recovery Care Association (ARCA) in Winston-Salem. For alcohol and chemically-dependent individuals who count on social support for their physical, mental and emotional recovery, the isolation effects of COVID-19 can be extremely difficult. The staff at ARCA have had to make several changes that limit their personal interaction during COVID-19.

“We are taking all the recommended precautions to observe social distancing in the dining hall and classrooms, wearing masks, using proper handwashing protocols and taking staff temperatures before entering the facility“ said Lauren Tolbert, licensed practical nurse.
Tolbert said, “It’s hard on patients since this is the first time that many of them have sought help for substance use disorders. They are tasked with learning to use the 12-step program, while focusing on other substance use dependency issues. Most treatment facilities have stopped face-to-face meetings and have expanded their telehealth capacity to include virtual meetings online. COVID-19 has resulted in restricted protocols that excludes visitation, family groups and drop-offs.”

“I love what I do and it’s rewarding to feel that I am making a difference as a nurse,” said Tolbert. “COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before especially since you don’t know who might be carrying the virus. The safety recommendations are common sense. Handwashing is what we should always do to protect ourselves from germs.”

Before becoming a nurse, Tolbert took care of her father, a two-time cancer survivor, while undergoing radiation, while she was going to school fulltime. Tolbert was also an Emergency Medical Technician for three years and then a Certified Nursing Assistant for three years. Yet, Tolbert she had always wanted to be a nurse. She graduated from the Paul M. Wiles School of Nursing at Forsyth Technical Community College in 2018.

“I feel that my experiences as an EMT and a CNA prepared me well for nursing school,” Tolbert said. “The instructors at Forsyth Tech were great and gave us everything we needed for success. It was difficult, but if you show up on time and follow what you are supposed to do, you will succeed. You have to love what you do and have your heart in it, and that’s how I feel about nursing.”

Angie Lundgren, department chair of the practical nursing program at Forsyth Tech said, “Lauren is a great example of how Forsyth Tech can change people’s lives. She was an excellent student, determined to graduate and become a nurse despite her past. Lauren is in a nursing position that is a true passion for her. She knows what the patients have been through and she is there to help them recover each and every day.”

At Forsyth Tech, the Practical Nursing curriculum provides knowledge and skills to integrate safety and quality into nursing care to meet the needs of the holistic individual which impact health, quality of life, and achievement of potential.
Course work includes and builds upon the domains of healthcare, nursing practice, and the holistic individual. Content emphasizes safe, individualized nursing care and participation in the interdisciplinary team while employing evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and informatics.
The Forsyth Technical Community College Associate Degree in Nursing and Practical Nursing diploma programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) located at 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037, 202-909-2526.

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Congratulations to Dr. Linda Latham

Linda Latham

Linda Latham, dean of Health Technologies, has completed the work to receive her doctorate of education in Higher Education Executive Leadership from Wingate University in Wingate, N.C. For three years until this past March when everything went online, she commuted every Saturday to Wingate with no summers off.

Her inspiration to pursue her doctorate was developed when she saw Wingate University at the North Carolina Community College System office conference. She saw their brochures and thought the topics were relevant to being a new dean, so she started the program.

The title of her dissertation was “The Effect of Mandatory Academic Advising on Community College Completion Rates.”

“It was challenging, but looking back it was exciting to see, with data analysis, how very important required advising can be,” said Latham.

She studied the advising model that Forsyth Tech established in 2015 for college transfer students and their completion rates. Latham also studied the differences in mandatory advising for minority students and their completion rates. She found a significant improvement in completion rates in both the college transfer cohort as well as in the URM (underrepresented minority) students’ completion rates after the mandatory advising program began.

Latham is now a published author as well. “We also had the opportunity to contribute to a book “Student Focused Learning: Higher Education in an Exponential Digital Era edited by Dr. Darrel Staat, Coordinator, Higher Education Executive Leadership Program/Assistant Professor, Graduate Education at Wingate.” said Latham. “Each of the seven students in my cohort wrote a chapter and mine was Concept-Based Education.”

Dr. Latham has been at Forsyth Tech for 16 years, beginning as an adjunct clinical instructor in nursing, moving into increasing roles of responsibility as lead instructor, program coordinator, department chair, director and was hired as dean three and a half years ago.

“I’m very pleased with our whole Health Technologies division and how we take people where they are and place them in life-changing careers,” said Latham. “We are one of the largest health technologies undergraduate programs in the state, and of course I think, the best.”

Dr. Latham received her undergraduate degree in nursing at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, N.C., now named Barton College. She holds two master’s degrees; she received a master’s of arts in adult education from East Carolina University and a master’s of science in nursing education from Western Carolina University.

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Courtney Haldeman

Heroes work here

When you walk into the employee entrance of Novant Health Medical Center, right now, there are several chalk messages on the sidewalk. One reads, “heroes work here.” Never in our lifetime have we seen the need for health care providers as we have now. They are truly heroes as they serve on the front lines in hospitals helping fight the coronavirus COVID-19.

Courtney Haldeman, a nursing graduate from Forsyth Technical Community College, is now a resource nurse in the Intensive Care COVID-19 Unit at Novant Health in Winston-Salem, N.C. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of North Carolina Greensboro and is back in school at UNCG to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. In March, like all schools, colleges and universities, all face-to-face classes were moved online.

Haldeman says she was always proud to be a nurse, but now her pride runs much deeper.

“I’ve seen some wonderful things happening in spite of this very stressful time,” Haldeman said. “Nurses have been pulled from other units to fill in on the COVID-19 unit and the teamwork is amazing. Managers who worked in different units are coming together to manage this COVID-19 unit to be sure it is staffed appropriately and that the unit has what it needs to care for the patients and help fight this virus.”

Haldeman explains that since some surgeries have been cancelled due to the pandemic, nurses from other units can serve on the COVID-19 unit. In addition, there are usually fewer hospitalizations during

the spring. Overall, the hospital has more beds available that can be used for COVID-19 patients. Haldeman said it was a total shock with how quickly the pandemic set in.

Treating patients is hard enough but magnify the job with the limitation on visitors. Haldeman said. “As nurses, we care about the patients’ families too, so it’s difficult now that COVID-19 patients cannot have any visitors. In the last moments of life, only one family member may be with the patient.  For us, it is a moral conflict, not having the whole family there. I have tremendous respect for what the patients and families are going through.”

Nurses are also limited on visits with their own families. “I have telephone calls and video chats with my Mom, but I haven’t seen her since the stay-at-home orders began,” Haldeman said. “I miss seeing her, but I want to be extremely careful.” Haldeman said.

Throughout this time, Haldeman said the nurses have been amazed at the community outreach and support. “I guess it was eye-opening for the community to see what we do each day.” Haldeman said, “Not only are the sidewalks filled with chalk messages, we get snacks and meals from churches and families and we appreciate it so much.”

In her own words, Haldeman shared what happened at Novant Health this month:

“On April 3, the Police Department performed an event called the “Circle of Hope” where they drove in front of the hospital with their sirens on to salute the health care team for the upcoming battle. On April 20,  all of the local fire departments performed the “Circle of Fire” where they drove through the front of the hospital with their sirens on, honking their horns in admiration, while waving and saluting the health care team while we are fighting the battle. They then lined up the vehicles, stepped out of the trucks, and cheered for the hospital. Watching these moments were breathtaking and uplifting. For such admirable and respected professions to support and cheer on health care professionals is a moment I will never forget. This is such a difficult time for nurses and to receive support from the community and professionals like the police department and fire department is indescribable. They risk their lives every day, and they made it a priority to show their respect and support for our profession. I have never been prouder to be a nurse!


“Forsyth Tech is proud of all our health technology graduates now serving on the front lines to protect us during COVID-19,” Linda Latham, dean of Health Technologies at Forsyth Tech said. “Courtney is one of many of our nurse alumni who are employed by Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centers and who give selflessly to our community every day.”

Both the Forsyth Tech Community College Associate Degree Nursing and Practical Nursing diploma programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA).

Forsyth Tech also partners with Winston-Salem State University in the dual enrollment Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program to encourage beginning students and Licensed Practical Nurses to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

For more information on career in nursing or health technologies, visit the Forsyth Tech website or complete an interest form.

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Student’s Design Sparks Judges Praise at National Interior Design Competition

Back and white protrait of Kevin

Student’s Design Sparks Judges Praise at National Interior Design Competition

Emberside earned Kevin Gerbrandt third place at the Bienenstock Library in High Point

Kevin Gerbrandt, second year architecture student at Forsyth Technical Community College, won third place and a $1,000 scholarship in the Bienenstock Library national interior design competition in High Point in March. This was the first year the judges awarded a third-place prize as they felt Gerbrandt’s design deserved recognition.

“Throughout his time here at Forsyth Technical Community College, Kevin has shown an advance level of ability within his architectural studies,” said Ja’Maul Redmond, Architecture Technology instructor. “His competition entry demonstrated his ability to thoroughly develop a concept from beginning to end as well as complete a complex set of working drawings and schedules.”

Following the competition’s theme of designing a youth camp, Gerbrandt designed “Emberside” as a unique place for traditional and special needs youth campers.

In his design statement, Gerbrandt described his motivation, “In a world where we — and especially our youth — are more digitally connected than ever, we are experiencing more loneliness and isolation than ever. Responding to the problem of this epidemic lies at the at the heart of my solution: to design a space in which our youth can build more authentic relationships with one another through increased connectivity not through technology, but through the land and the natural environment they inhabit.”

The inspiration for Emberside came from the civilizations and architecture of the indigenous people of North America. Originally from Canada, Gerbrandt explains, “the First Nations were and continue to be close-knit communities that are highly connected to the land they inhabit, aware of the many ways Mother Nature occupies all senses.

“The mission of Emberside is to foster a connection to each other and to the land through multisensory design gestures that are organized around the hearth  as the center of the community. “

For the competition, students are given the envelope or the shell of the building along with the square footage of the required spaces where they design two floors of the interior and the exterior of the building.

As a semester-long project, students create their design individually, and receive feedback from Forsyth Tech instructors and students. Design projects are judged internally (in a blind competition) and five are submitted to the competition.

This is a second-career path for Gerbrandt who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies and Theology from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He met his wife in college and they relocated to Winston-Salem. Once here, Gerbrandt said he was interested in becoming bi-vocational, combining ministry with a second career.

“I thought I would try Forsyth Tech and take architectural studies,” said Gerbrandt. “I see the importance of architecture and design related to theology in a holistic way. It’s one of the ways we care for the spiritual and the physical needs of people in our cities and our world.”

“I found the instructors and my experience here have surpassed my expectations. Forsyth Tech is a  hidden jewel in Winston-Salem.”

Gerbrandt plans to graduate in May and hopes to begin working for an architecture firm.

The Architectural Technology Program at Forsyth Tech, 40 years running,  provides the strong foundations required to excel both in a professional setting as well as at the University level.  In order to implement a successful curriculum and approach, it is most important to have a solid and experienced team of faculty. This team must not only share a similar vision but work well together with the common goal of providing the best opportunity for student success.


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A recent Forsyth Technical Community College graduate shares her experiences serving on the front lines with COVID-19.

Savannah Hayes Photo

On Good Friday, Savannah Hayes drove into work at a Novant Health COVID-19 screening center in Winston-Salem with a basket of eggs in the seat next to her.

In our pre-pandemic world, Hayes, a newly minted nurse, would have had the day off. Those eggs would have gone to her three children. She wouldn’t have been hiding them for the sole purpose of delighting her (adult) colleagues just a few days before Easter.

But, in this unprecedented time, that’s exactly what Hayes did. She pulled up to the screening center an hour before her shift and placed the eggs around the clinic so that her team members would stumble across them throughout the day.

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Congratulations to our Phi Theta Kappa Chapter on Awards and Recognition

PTK Induction 2019 jt

Forsyth Technical Community College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the Alpha Mu Rho chapter, was recognized as a 2020 REACH Rewards Chapter for increasing our membership rates to 15% or above. We reached 23.9% in membership rates for this past year. Thank you to each of you for helping to make this achievement happen.

On Friday, March 13, members of our chapter leadership team and others participated in the first virtual Carolinas Region Awards Ceremony. From that ceremony, we received the following awards and recognitions:

  • 3-Star Chapter (up from 2-Star)
  • Distinguished Community Service Award
  • Paragon Award for New Advisors – Kismet Loftin-Bell
  • Carolinas Region Advisory Board – Kismet Loftin-Bell

On March 20, the international scholarships were announced. We had two members receive an international scholarship:

  • New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar (a $1250 scholarship) – Tamelia Orellana
  • Walgreens Pharmacy Technician Certification Scholarship ($300 scholarship towards testing fees) – My Phan

On April 2, there was a random drawing to win a free registration to the virtual PTK Catalyst this year from PTK members who completed a combination of the EDGE programs (i.e. Competitive Edge, Transfer Edge, etc.).

  • James Coe was selected to win a free registration.

EDGE Program Completes:

  • James Coe, Competitive Edge and Employment Edge
  • Onolunosen “Ono” Abhulimen, Employment Edge and Transfer Edge
  • Tasha Shankle – Research Edge

On April 6, the Carolinas Region announced the results of the Carolinas Region Officer Elections and our very own VP of Scholarship, Paulina Solis Page, was elected as the 2020-2021 NC Regional Vice President.

Lastly, in February, our chapter president, Shirin Alhroob, was hired to join the Forsyth Tech ITS department, opening a pathway from education to career.

Join me in congratulating everyone! I am excited for each of you. Let’s continue to do great work academically, on campus, and within the community.

If you have a celebration announcement that you would like to share with the rest of the PTK family, such as scholarships received or college or program admittance, feel free to email me the details at

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Forsyth Tech Student Named Outstanding Pre-Apprentice for 2020

Group of people having their picture taken

Herson Garcia an apprentice at Hayward Industries, demonstrates his drive to succeed 

On March 5, 2020 at the Apprenticeship NC Conference, Herson Garcia was awarded the outstanding pre-apprentice from North Carolina.  Click here to watch Garcia’s video.

Garcia attended Forsyth Tech’s FOCUS event last spring while a student at Reagan High School.  Following graduation, he jumped right into the pre-apprenticeship Production Technician Program (PTP) during the summer, which prepares students to interview for a position in the Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program (LEAP) at Forsyth Tech. He is now an apprentice at Hayward Industries and a student in the Mechanical Engineering Technologies program at Forsyth Tech.

“I realized I couldn’t miss out on this massive opportunity,” said Garcia. “I’m now working and going to school. It’s a great investment in my future, I’m getting a degree while working and getting paid.”

Danielle Rose, apprenticeship coordinator at Forsyth Tech nominated Garcia for the award for several reasons, primarily because he demonstrated such drive and initiative. “Within 24 hours after FOCUS, I received an email from Garcia with a screenshot of his Forsyth Tech acceptance and an attached registration form for the PTP. Wow, I was impressed with the quick follow-through of this teenager.”

On the last day of the PTP program, eleven companies attended to interview students. Only four of the companies were accepting apprentices but Garcia interviewed with all eleven. He was interested in an apprentice position, but also recognized he should have a back-up plan just in case!

Garcia now works at Hayward Industries part-time while attending classes at Forsyth Tech. He said he wants to master what he is doing now as a technician and that his learning will pay off. When he graduates, he will have a degree to help him advance after gaining valuable on-the-job experience.

If you are interested, read more about the LEAP@ForsythTech Program or apply for the 2020 PTP!

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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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