Hispanic League Awards Scholarships to Forsyth Technical Community College Students

Rafael Perez

Six Forsyth Tech Community College students were awarded scholarships from the Hispanic League during a virtual awards presentation in October. Rafael Perez, director of Human Resource Development in Economic and Workforce Development at Forsyth Tech was the keynote speaker at the virtual event.

“We are very proud of these students who were committed to their academic programs to earn scholarships,” said Perez. “We encourage other Hispanic/Latino students to seek opportunities for scholarships to continue their education, graduate, and move into successful careers.”

Forsyth Tech Scholarship Awards
 See photos of recipients.

Amairani Castellanos-Avilez
Forsyth Technical Community College
Hispanic League Raffle Scholarship

Maribel Delgado Salgado
Forsyth Technical Community College
D.E. “Woody” Clinard Scholarship

Bianca Pioquinto
Forsyth Technical Community College
Beating Hearts Zumbathon® Scholarship

Jaquelin Sorto
Information Technology
Forsyth Technical Community College
Uno Translations Scholarship

Jonathan Sorto
Forsyth Technical Community College
McDonald’s Scholarship

Valeria Verne-Asurza
Nursing College
Forsyth Technical Community College
Fermin & Margaret Bocanegra Scholarship

The Hispanic League of the Triad In keeping with its mission to improve the quality of life for Hispanics/Latinos by promoting community inclusion, education, and multicultural understanding, has established this program to provide scholarships for deserving students.

The Scholarship Application is available until December 18, 2020 for the 2021-2022 Scholarships.

Have you ever had that ‘gut feeling?’ Why this CMA proves you should listen to your intuition.

kendall Moser

Kendall Moser, a certified medical assistant (CMA) at Novant Health Cancer Institute Hematology – Forsyth, proves that following your intuition can not only be remarkable, it can save someone’s life.

Kendall first became connected with Novant Health in 2018 as a student from Forsyth Tech during her final clinical rotation. Kendall fell in love with oncology, and there luckily was an opening for a CMA to join the newly opened Hematology clinic. It was a match made in heaven.

One afternoon, patient who often visited the clinic was late. Because Kendall takes time to get know her patients, she quickly recognized this was not normal behavior. She tried to reach the patient on the phone, but she was unsuccessful. She also called the patient’s daughter, who lives out of town, to see if she knew where she may be. The daughter called her mother several times and became concerned when all the calls went unanswered. The daughter then called a family member who lived nearby and asked that they go check on her mom at home. The family member found the patient unresponsive and called EMS. The patient had a blood sugar in the low 30s and was taken to the hospital. The patient has now recovered and is doing well.

The compassion and care exemplified by Kendall should inspire us all. Her actions demonstrate our priorities to know and care for our patients. By simply taking the time to care about her patient, knowing her well enough to recognize what was out of the ordinary and going above and beyond to reach her family, Kendall may have saved a life. We celebrate Kendall’s remarkable work of going above the call of duty.

Contributed by the Novant Health Medical Group News, November 11, 2020.

Jonathan Thull Discovered a Place of Promise at Forsyth Tech

Jonathan Thull

If he hadn’t made a life-changing choice to attend Forsyth Tech, Jonathan Thull said his life might have turned out much differently. Now, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor- Supervisor with a graduate certificate in play therapy for children and adolescents, Thull has traveled the world, even living in Israel during the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War.

Thull said from where he started, he couldn’t imagine he would be where he is now.

“I wasn’t interested in high school and had difficulty focusing and concentrating. These issues were exacerbated by my ADHD and Learning disability and I might have placed somewhere on the Autism spectrum,” said Thull. “I dropped out of high school in 10th grade. As a high school dropout with a rebellious nature, I was easily drawn into some risky behavior. And, when I came right up to the edge of falling into serious trouble, that was my wake-up call.”

Shortly after, he enrolled in the Adult High School at Forsyth Tech. Yet, still battling some personal issues, he became frustrated and dropped out of school again with little direction and purpose in life.

He then realized he needed a high school certificate to pursue further education and help the world through the helping profession. Upon completion of his high school equivalency, he found his way to Forsyth Tech again.

Jonathan Thull“That’s when I fell in love with learning.” said Thull, “I found, what would be the best professor in my college career, Dr. James Fortuna, who was pivotal in guiding my education. He challenged me, influenced me and lit a fire in me. In my failure to thrive in my teenage years, Forsyth Tech gave me a softer place to land. Reflecting on my past, Forsyth Tech was the catalyst I needed to succeed.”

Getting the individualized support, he needed, Thull was able to take night classes at Forsyth Tech while working which helped him feel empowered and gave him more control over his life.

Earning his transfer associate degree in three years, Thull went on to the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He then continued his studies there, earning his master’s degree in conflict resolution. Thull was very interested in the conflict between Israel and Palestine and wanted to travel there.

“I went to Israel to volunteer doing peace work. Working in a youth commune was a profound experience for me,” said Thull. “When war broke out with Lebanon, I was living in the north of Israel near the border of Syria. Shortly after the war began, I started studying at Haifa University but the program moved students to Jerusalem for safety.  But he said, “Life just kept going there, the alarms would sound to take cover and when the bombing finished, another alarm would sound to alert an all clear.” That’s when Thull said his experience during war and witnessing protracted conflict led him back to the states to delve deeper into psychology beyond conflict resolution.

Thull earned his second master’s degree in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a concentration in play therapy. He currently has his own counseling practice in Charlotte but has now opened a branch in Winston-Salem and is moving back to be closer to his family.

“The pandemic, for me had a silver-lining in a way,” said Thull. “I hadn’t worked in tele-counseling before and now that’s the counseling method I want to pursue as I start my counseling practice in the Triad and across North Carolina. With some of my teenage clients, for example, a computer screen is very comfortable for them since they spend so much time online or on games. I want to help them flourish and by using technology I enter into their world and help them solve problems! Knowing what I went through and my own disabilities, I can relate to them and they more easily relate to me. ”

Thull also hopes to one day to teach and share his story that education is different for everyone. Thull shares, “It works best when we discover what inspires us to learn. And that path for me began at Forsyth Technical Community College.”

Tamelia Orellana – New Century Workforce Scholarship Award

Tamelia Orellana Photo

Tamelia Orellana

New Century Workforce Scholarship Award

“I feel so confident that God will use me in patients’ time of need just as the sonographer helped me so many years ago.”

When Tamelia Orellana was told by her doctor it was likely her unborn child had down syndrome and possibly spina bifida, she was terrified not knowing what to expect. But instead of giving up on her baby, Orellana decided she needed to see her baby girl on an ultrasound. At the diagnostic clinic, entering the dark room with eyes swollen from tears, Orellana was met by a gentle and kind sonographer who explained there was just a chance her baby would be fine. As Orellana describes, “the ultrasound looked perfect. Oh, her cheeks were so fat and beautiful in the scan. 10 fingers and 10 toes. To me, the black and white version of her melted my heart and nothing would stop me from having her.” Although repeated ultrasounds showed the baby deformed, Orellana’s faith and the prayers of her community kept her strong. Later that year, she gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl “who had no defects or down syndrome.”

After completing her GED online, with her baby girl on her lap, Orellana began school at Rockingham Community College. Although she initially wanted to be an art teacher, Orellana felt strongly led to pursue a degree in sonography. Orellana admits it took her a long time to complete her prerequisites for the program. Along the way “she got sidetracked by a custody battle, had another baby, faced cancer and the new baby had surgery.” As a single mother she sometimes worked two jobs. To be fair, Orellana needed to take some breaks along the way. But her determination carried her and, with support from her boss and friends in the community, Orellana graduated with high honors and the requirements necessary to apply to the ultrasound program at Forsyth Tech.  According to Orellana, only 8 applicants were chosen out of the hundreds that applied that year.

Leaving Rockingham county was bittersweet. She loved her community and had to say goodbye “to one of the best bosses” she ever had. But she remembered, “I put all my effort into making sure I got through this vigorous program in order to help someone else who may face the very same things I also had to endure. I did this to encourage some mother out there who may come into my ultrasound room in tears. I feel so confident that God will use me in patients’ time of need just as the sonographer helped me so many years ago.”

Since coming to Forsyth Tech Community College, both the family cars broke down, her husband moved to part-time to help with the youngest, and they share one laptop and a shattered tablet. They still struggle with health issues and Orellana mainly studied at night since her daughter needed the computer during the day. But as the recipient of the New Century Workforce Scholarship, Orellana observes that “through every financial crisis God came through at the right time!”

Orellana is no stranger to sonography, including watching her first baby with her husband wane through serial ultrasounds before dying; witnessing the miracle of her son, Evan, fight a failing heart and survive; and herself beating cancer twice and recovering from heart failure. Orellana says she is “just like a sword beaten and put through the fire” to help others in their time of need. Through her journey and perseverance, Orellana firmly believes she is prepared both professionally and personally to comfort fearful and uncertain patients as they enter her sonogram room.


If you are interested in learning more about the Medical Sonography program at Forsyth Tech, please go to our  website at  https://www.forsythtech.edu/courses-programs/degrees/programs-a-z/medical-sonography/

Course work includes effective communication and patient care skills combined with knowledge of physics, human anatomy, physiology and pathology, all of which are essential to obtaining high quality sonographic images.


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.

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.


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.

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.


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.