Feature: Pillars Of Support

Dr. Corey Miller

Foundational Insights

Dr. Corey Miller, Executive Director of Development and the Forsyth Tech Foundation

“The Forsyth Tech Foundation exists to add value to the college by building on its strengths.”

I joined the Foundation this past fall with the goal of fostering a culture of philanthropy around the mission of the college. As I have been “learning the business” through conversations and campus tours, one thing is clear to me. The work of the Foundation is building on strengths. We exist to encourage the generosity of our community to support student scholarships, fund professional development and provide advanced program technology.

As a native of Winston-Salem, I have always known about the unique presence of Forsyth Tech in our community. While Forsyth Tech could rest easy as the only community college in Forsyth and Stokes counties, I am encouraged by the clear commitment to grow relationships so that we can best meet the needs of our partners. Since I arrived in October, I have toured our campuses and have been impressed by what I have seen.

Our goal is to develop students so that they can advance professionally to meet the workforce needs of our community and beyond. While there is no “typical” student, the motivation and focus that I have seen among our students is inspiring.

The faculty members are open and engaging and are committed to providing the best opportunity for their students. From machining to interior design, the passion for their programs is evident, and they continually adjust what is offered to improve the student experience.

With low tuition costs, especially relative to four-year colleges, it is easy to understand the “bang-for-the-buck” value of our degree programs. The college’s responsiveness to the needs of the workplace is critical as we adjust and customize programs to supply the skilled workforce needed in our community. Yet for the training to have value, it needs to be taught on relevant, current technology.

Because there are limits on how far government funding can go, the Foundation builds on strengths and focuses on the college’s three integral areas: students, faculty/staff and technology. Even with a reduced tuition cost, many students are financially stressed. To cover their needs, and those of other deserving students, the Foundation manages a number of scholarships that range from specific programs to general areas of study.

Providing students with the most skilled, educated and expert instructors in their fields is critical to a solid education. To train students most effectively, faculty members need opportunities to continually refine and retool their skills. The Foundation provides grants to fund faculty and staff development activities, such as professional training, attending a national conference or continuing their education to a higher level.

Although I don’t fully understand all the details of using a pulmonary testing machine, how 3-D printers function or how to run diagnostics on a diesel engine, I do understand that we need to teach with current technology to remain relevant for employers. The Foundation raises money to purchase new technology and facilitates in-kind donations for other current equipment.

On the following pages you will be introduced to other Pillars of Support, those who provide support and those that benefit. Their stories will illustrate the support network created by the college, the Foundation and the community around our students to provide them with educational pathways and prepare them for a competitive workforce and a bright future.


Financial Support Changes Lives

Our students face many barriers to college success, and cost is often a significant issue. The generosity of our donors helps remove financial roadblocks and opens up doorways to opportunities our students never thought possible.


Matthew HodgesMatthew Hodges, Welding and Robotics Technology

“I’ve been given the greatest peace of mind I’ve ever had about my future.”

I took a nontraditional path to Forsyth Tech’s Welding and Robotics Technology program. A graphic artist and documentary filmmaker at heart, I went to art school and spent 20-plus years “singing for my supper,” so to speak. When I became the father of twins three years ago, I had to get serious about providing for my family. I moved my artistic idealism to the back burner and decided to study welding because I could see how it would provide security.

As a second-year student, I received two scholarships this fall through the Foundation – the Waggoner Scholarship for $1,500 and the Welding Modern Machine Scholarship for $750. Both made a tangible difference in my ability to remain in school so I can graduate in May with my AAS degree.

Welding students must pay for their own supplies. I used the $750 to purchase high-quality protective equipment, such as a helmet, gloves and boots that can withstand temperatures of up to 6,000 degrees. I will use the $1,500 to purchase a three-process welding machine that I can use to practice on at home. Welding isn’t like riding a bike. You must always work to keep current.

The $1,500 Waggoner Scholarship is equivalent in my world to the annual cost of diapers for my twins. Without it, I would have had to drop to part time at Forsyth Tech to get a part-time job.

These scholarships, the welding program, my teachers and fellow students have given me the greatest peace of mind I’ve ever had about my future.


David and Anita Wesson

Around 10 years ago, my church was involved in raising funds for a new building. When the project was complete, we had around $12,500 left over, and someone on our outreach committee suggested we donate the money to Forsyth Tech. We wanted the money to go back into the community. Since I had the time, I delivered the check to the college’s Foundation. We asked the college to use the money where it was needed most.

Before we knew it, we started receiving wonderful thank-you letters at the church from the scholarship recipients. Many of these students didn’t have enough to say grace over, and we felt good knowing we had made a difference.

I was so intrigued by this story that I discussed it with my husband, David. We decided we didn’t want students who didn’t have the means to be denied an education. We decided to start giving personally to the Forsyth Tech Foundation. We had no stipulations, only that the money was to be used immediately and given to those who needed it.

We have given every year since then. When there’s something we can do, we try to help. Some of the students work two jobs and don’t even have a suit for graduation. We’ve learned that a little support can make a big difference. It’s very satisfying that our community is enriched by the students’ hard work.

That’s why, at the end of the year, Forsyth Tech is always on our giving list.


Corporate Donations Contribute To Quality Training

Forsyth Tech stands at the intersection of higher education and a better life for students when it comes to training today’s skilled workforce. The powerful partnerships we build with local businesses and corporations along with their generous support ensure we provide the highest-quality and most innovative education available.


Bill AdamsBill Adams, Part-Time Director of Occupational Extension

“Thanks to Pike Electric, we’re the only nationally certified program in North Carolina.”

When we launched Forsyth Tech’s Electrical Lineman program in 2010, we had no idea how successful it would be. We offer the nine-week program five times a year. As of December 2016, we completed 32 classes, and more than 400 of our graduates have found jobs. Our job placement rate is 80-100 percent.

Pike Electric is one of our program’s biggest sponsors. Thanks to Pike, we are the only program in North Carolina that is nationally certified through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).

Pike Electric supports our program in other important ways too. It provides needed tools and supplies and sits on our advisory board. Recently, Pike donated a bucket truck to us, which we could not have afforded to buy on our own. Having this additional truck allows our students to get more hands-on experience; instructors can go up with students and see what they’re doing at eye level and give good, clear teaching instruction.

Also, we use the bucket to do pole-top simulation rescues. Many people don’t know this, but because of the danger, only linemen can rescue other linemen on poles. That’s why linemen are always in two-person crews – one on a pole, the other on the ground.

The bucket truck provides an additional level of safety for our students too. Sometimes when students climb up the poles for the first time, they get scared and occasionally experience a medical emergency. If we can’t talk them down, we send an instructor up in the bucket to bring them down.


Don AndersonDon Anderson, Vice President Operations, Pike Electric

I’m in Operations at Pike Electric, and I can testify to the importance of Forsyth Tech’s Electrical Lineman program to our company.

This program is the only nationally certified program of its kind in North Carolina, and the graduates are ready for work on day one.

I am honored to serve as a member of the advisory committee for the Lineman program. At Pike, we always have a need for electrical linemen. In fact, we hire about 50 percent of Forsyth Tech’s graduates.

When the college indicates it has a need it can’t fill, we always try to help out. Sometimes we donate small items, such as hot sticks, which are insulated poles, usually made of fiberglass, that linemen use when they’re working on energized high-voltage power lines to protect them from electric shock.

Most recently, we donated a used bucket truck in good condition to the program. The college uses it to train students on how to manage the truck’s controls and to work on poles from the bucket, as opposed to climbing the poles. Instructors can observe students at eye level and provide specific feedback. This individualized training is what makes the program’s graduates so valuable to us and why Pike Electric is committed to supporting the program in whatever ways it can.


Professional Development Ensures Teaching Excellence

Forsyth Tech has a responsibility to provide students with the most advanced training and education possible to ensure our students are well-prepared to enter the workforce or further their education. Our Foundation is an important partner in this process by providing financial support to faculty seeking professional development.


Dr. Jackie WoodsDr. Jackie Woods, Department Chair, Welding Technology

“I am grateful for the investment in my professional development. I can help make sure we stay world class.”

As in so many other fields, the manufacturing industry, and specifically welding, is becoming more automated. Manufacturers are utilizing robots to increase production and reduce costs. To make sure our students are prepared to meet employer demands, we have to continually train them in the skills they need and on the actual technology they will use in manufacturing environments.

I have a responsibility to make sure our training is state of the art. Our graduates are in demand by many local employers. We have enough interest in our welding program to run four shifts of classes around the clock during the week.

I must continually explore how to keep our welding program competitive and ahead of the curve. We are one of just two community colleges in North Carolina that is accredited by the American Welding Society as a Welding Testing Center. Industry certifications make our graduates stand out in the hiring process and help them climb the career ladder more quickly.

In March 2015, I saw another opportunity to distinguish our welding program. I decided to get myself credentialed as a Certified Robotic Arc Welding (CRAW) technician so our program can become a certified CRAW organization, making it only the sixth organization in the world to receive this designation. Once I am CRAW certified, I can certify my own staff to ensure our program remains on the cutting edge.

My ability to go through this certification was made possible through a $2,500 grant from the Forsyth Tech Foundation, which covers all my classroom training, testing and travel expenses related to the CRAW certification process. I am grateful for the Foundation’s investment in my professional development so I can help ensure that our welding program is offering among the highest-quality training and education in the world to our students.


Angela Bryant, Director of Donor Relations, Forsyth Tech Foundation

In my role, I oversee the Forsyth Tech Foundation program that provides financial support to faculty and staff members seeking ongoing professional development opportunities. This program helps eligible full-time faculty and staff keep their skills and knowledge current by providing them up to $2,500 every three years to cover expenses related to workshops, seminars, tuition reimbursement, training and emerging classroom technologies.

With support from our donors, we distribute up to $30,000 each year to faculty and staff to enrich their professional growth, which in turn enriches our students’ learning with innovative teaching and administrative strategies. This program ensures that the college continues to offer high-quality education to its students that prepares them for today’s workforce demands.

The Foundation is committed to providing employees with professional development opportunities that contribute to the overall success of the college. Dr. Jackie Woods is just one example of how the Foundation invests in one of the greatest assets we have: our faculty and staff.


Individual Support Provides Opportunity

Our individual donors are passionate about Forsyth Tech. The support we receive from each of them helps advance the college’s mission of providing educational pathways for our students, opening up new doors of opportunity to a competitive workforce.


Borden HanesBorden Hanes, Chair, John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation

“Forsyth Tech is a marvelous institution and a jewel of North Carolina.”

Forsyth Tech President Dr. Gary Green is an outstanding leader who I respect immensely. I have visited the college’s Transportation Technology Center and was impressed with the ethics of the students and the quality of the teaching. There are so many opportunities for students who are motivated to get jobs with the skills and training they receive from Forsyth Tech.

I have been supporting the college on a regular basis since 1998, and am glad to do what I can. Most recently, the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Foundation, which I chair, provided support through the capital campaign that will help the college create a 3-D printing lab to keep up with current technology.

Forsyth Tech is a marvelous institution and a jewel of North Carolina.


David Eagan, President, Community Management Corporation

My family has been supporting Forsyth Tech for around 20 years. My father was on the Board of Trustees, and I have served as a board member for the Forsyth Tech Foundation. Over the years, we have supported the college financially, as needed, through the Foundation. We don’t specify that our support should go to a particular program or department. Sometimes it goes to student scholarships, and this year it supports the work of the capital campaign. We have full confidence that Forsyth Tech President Dr. Gary Green looks carefully at the needs of the college and puts the money to good use. Our community doesn’t realize how many people Forsyth Tech touches every day


Capital Campaigns Transform The Future

Among the responsibilities of the Forsyth Tech Foundation is execution of capital campaigns. In 2015, Forsyth Tech launched Pathways to Possibilities, focused on updating technology and equipment and providing student support.


Susan CameronSusan Cameron, Capital Campaign Honorary Chair, Retired President and CEO of Reynolds American Inc.

“A contribution to Forsyth Tech is an investment in our community and in our future.”

I was thrilled to help the Pathways to Possibilities capital campaign and give my support to Forsyth Tech because I’ve seen firsthand the transformative role that technology has played in the success of my company and its subsidiaries. Lending my time and effort is the least I can do to show how much I believe in the value the college brings to our community and businesses like Reynolds American and its operating companies.

Forsyth Tech is a real asset to the region’s economic development initiatives – having a direct impact on providing companies like mine access to a highly trained labor force. I’m pleased to say that our companies hire many Forsyth Tech graduates.

Forsyth Tech has developed customized training content and instruction tailored to our R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s changing manufacturing needs, including training that enables employees to regularly renew their professional skills. Over the years, the college has also changed its training models to incorporate new technology specific to our industry and has been willing to adjust to meet our employees’ alternative work schedules.

Making a financial contribution to Forsyth Tech is quite simply an investment in our community and our future. Whether you are a business leader who needs a steady supply of a highly skilled labor force or a Forsyth County resident who wants to live in a thriving, prosperous community, an investment in Forsyth Tech supports an organization that is changing lives and bringing quality education to our community.

Forsyth Tech continues to be a strategic partner with us as we work to transform our company and the tobacco industry.

If I were to impart one piece of advice to our community it would be, do not underestimate the value of public-private partnerships and their importance in driving continued progress in our community. It is critical that all parts of the community – government, business, education and civic leaders – work together to address challenges and make opportunities become reality

Nancy HawleyNancy Hawley, Executive Vice President, Operations, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, former Chair, Forsyth Tech Foundation

The decision of Reynolds American Foundation to provide the lead gift for Forsyth Tech’s Pathways to Possibilities capital campaign came without hesitation. Giving to Forsyth Tech makes sense because it makes our community stronger by providing training that improves lives and creates new talent for area businesses, like ours. As former chair of the Forsyth Tech Foundation, I have seen firsthand that the college is a great institution and able to create training programs that allow employers to evolve their processes and services.