Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer Student Profiles

Teresa ClaytonWhile working at a tattoo shop in Durham, Teresa Clayton expressed to her friend that she'd like to work in the medical field. The friend encouraged her to enroll at Durham Tech. After visiting the campus, she knew that the Surgical Technology program was the right choice for her. Clayton graduated from the program in 2004 and accepted a job as a Neurosurgery Surgical Technologist at Duke Medicine.

A few years later while on a medical mission to Uganda, a good friend encouraged her to advance her position in medicine by becoming a Physician Assistant. Clayton agreed but needed to first earn a bachelor's degree. In 2006 Clayton started the University Transfer program at Durham Tech with UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University in her sights. While they were a tough two years, Clayton feels they were some of the best years of her life. Despite working 30 hours a week at Duke Medicine, she flourished at Durham Tech expressing thanks to her instructors and advisor.

 Clayton received the Edward L. Phillips Memorial Scholarship which made it possible for her to work less at Duke Medicine and spend more time on campus and on schoolwork. 

Clayton participated in math league competitions and joined honor societies. "I would encourage students to get involved in the extracurricular activities that Durham Tech has to offer.  Involvement not only creates a better school but also better students. It teaches us to be better members of a greater body and hence better members of our community.  I am biased toward math league but I'm sure every one of you can find something in which to get involved. I would also encourage you to stay in touch as you transition into an alum in the coming years."

She also states "As members of the Durham Tech student body students come from all walks of life. This diversity is unique to community colleges so cherish it." Her advice is to not just consider Durham Tech where you finish, but envision it as where you begin

Clayton graduated from the University Transfer Program in 2008 and transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill to complete her undergraduate education with a BS in Mathematics. She moved on to graduate work by completing the Physician Assistant Program at Duke University in 2014. She started working as a Neurosurgery Physician Assitant at Duke Medicine in November 2014. 

Read more about Clayton in The Herald-Sun article Long Strange Trip: Woman eschews body piercing to become PA.



Nigel Vincent StammesNigel Vincent Stammes, who graduated from Durham Tech in 2012 and from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BS in biology in May 2014, offers advice to ASUT students.

Even though I see myself as a proud Tar Heel, my road to graduation had several road blocks. Unfortunately, some of these were specific to being a transfer student. Friends at other universities have mentioned similar problems, so I decided to share my insights to help future transfer students.

Attend the transfer reception!

With my acceptance letter to UNC-Chapel Hill, I received an invitation to a reception for transfer students. This optional event is probably the most important orientation you will attend. Transfer students shared their Carolina experience and tried to give a “Carolina” perspective. I returned the favor by sharing my perspective in 2013 with new transfer students.

There are ways to get the course you want!

Two core classes I needed to take for my major my first semester were waitlisted when I tried to register. A friend gave me advice that made a big difference during my Carolina career: it is a common practice to call the department and ask for an override to register for a class even though it is waitlisted. Within an hour of calling the office, I was registered for both classes. Junior transfer students have four semesters to complete their degrees at UNC, so putting off these classes was not an option. Some of my friends did not find a way into courses and ended up having to take summer classes or apply for a ninth semester.

Check your transcripts for proper designations.

After I received my associate’s degree at the graduation ceremony at DPAC, I obtained a Durham Tech transcript and delivered it to an admissions counselor at UNC, saying I was transferring under the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA). I was told they could only offer me the protections of the CAA if my transcript indicated I had been awarded an associate’s degree. I then learned that Durham Tech does not record degree designations for a month after the graduation ceremony. I had to pay for a later transcript to prove my degree to UNC. Eventually, it worked out fine.

Understand course equivalency and prerequisite requirements for your major!

UNC-Chapel Hill has an eight-semester rule. When you transfer as a junior under the CAA, you are assumed to have used four semesters. You can apply for a ninth semester, but double majors and minors will not be awarded that way. Consequently, a lot of advisors in the sciences advise transfer students not to pursue a Bachelor of Science major, since it is difficult to take all of the required courses in your two years at UNC. They ask students to switch to a Bachelor of Arts or to drop the major altogether. Native UNC students take some core courses in their sophomore or even freshman year. If you still want to try for the BS, expect to take a heavy load of science courses. Try to meet early with an advisor at your transfer institution to make sure you will be able to finish your intended major on time.

Take advantage of unique opportunities.

Transfer students should consider undergraduate research. UNC-Chapel Hill has a whole department dedicated toward undergraduate research with funding for students who want to pursue this opportunity. One of my friends, also a Durham Tech graduate, was able to conduct research under the guidance of Dr. Gidi Shemer (one of the best professors and advisors I have had). My friend is now in his first year at UNC’s Dental School.
There are hundreds of clubs and organizations on campus, too. Tar Heel Transfers hosts events specific to transfer students and can be a great resource. Study abroad is also popular. However, there can be issues of credit transferability, depending on whether you study at an international university or go abroad with a UNC professor or course. Make sure you will be able to get the credits you need.

Don’t expect small classes at UNC; expect the unexpected.

As a transfer student, do not expect to get into small classes. The two core biology courses I took my first semester had over 200 students. Some students had to sit on the floor in one class! Eventually we moved to a bigger lecture hall, but it was still very crowded. This situation makes it harder to build relationships with professors and requires greater dependence on teaching assistants (TAs) or fellow students.

Despite the large class size, many classes challenged me intellectually and were cutting-edge. Professors had the best stories, talked about their own research, and brought in research that might have been published in the last 24 hours. In one class, we discussed research published in Japan, and a few weeks later the researcher won a Nobel Prize!

Despite the hurdles, I enjoyed my time at Durham Tech and loved being a Tar Heel. I hope that by sharing these experiences, I help you reach your goals a little bit easier at Carolina or at other institutions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It will bring you lux et libertas, which means “light and freedom” and is the motto of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Palestine SmallPalestine Small may have started from humble, even small, beginnings, but through hard work and amazing resiliency, she has moved on to great things. Small emerged from a childhood filled with neglect and abuse to an adulthood of addiction and instability. But something inside her knew she could do more – and deserved more. Working with TROSA, she broke free of her addictions and started her life, a life that included getting an education at Durham Tech.

After completing her associate’s degree in May 2012, Small then transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill through the C-STEP program. While at Carolina, Small volunteered as a C-STEP mentor and with a variety of agencies through the UNC-CH Buckley Scholars Program.

By the time Small graduated in December 2013, she had given more than 300 hours of her time feeding hungry children, helping abused women, supporting the homeless, which resulted in her receiving the National Engaged Leader Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Armed with her bachelor’s degree, Small is now applying to graduate school, hoping to first complete a divinity degree before moving on to law school. She plans to combine her faith with education to help others in situations similar to hers. “Right now I want to use my experience to help others through the Word of God and mesh that with practical solutions like therapy, vocational training, and education. I believe all of these together helped me to become better than I ever thought I could be,” she said.

Small offered these words of advice to others starting down the path of education, “I think we all should continue to press towards the mark and work hard to achieve greatness. We all have unique gifts that embody natural talent, which will help us to achieve greatness. So continue to use your unique gifts and be determined to use that God-given talent to make yourself into anything you desire to be. Be committed to the task, take steps to get there, and keep moving forward.”


Jonas Feit following the NC State May 2013 graduationWhen he lived in Boston, Jonas Feit played Fender guitars and worked as a guitar salesperson and Starbucks store clerk. Then he moved to Durham and decided that Durham Tech’s Electrical Engineering Technology program would be a great way to combine his previous technological experiences with some new job prospects. 

While in the Associate in Applied Science program, he participated in the solar panel exhibitions at the Orange County Campus, plugging his Fender guitars into amplifiers powered by solar panels to demonstrate the panels’ effectiveness.

When he was about to graduate with his A.A.S. degree in December 2010, Feit wandered into the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer offices in the Phillips Building and asked the dean an interesting question: “I’m really enjoying school and doing well. [Feit earned a 3.9 GPA at Durham Tech.]  What would it take for me to get an Associate in Arts degree so I could think about transferring to North Carolina State University?”

He took 22 credit hours in the Spring of 2011 and 14 in the summer to earn his A.A. degree in August 2011.  In the meantime, Feit was accepted into the Economics major at NC State. “Taking Mr. Beveridge’s Economics classes (ECO 251 and ECO 252) turned me on to that field,” he says. “I realized how much I enjoy thinking about the world from a macroeconomic perspective.”

Feit wound up serving as a reader for Beveridge’s recently published A Primer on Microeconomics and A Primer on Macroeconomics and is mentioned in the acknowledgments sections of those books. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from NC State in May 2013 and was accepted to the Accelerated Master of Economics Degree program at the same institution. He will finish that in May 2014.

Feit credits Durham Tech’s ASUT department with introducing him to the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement and encouraging him to complete the A.A. before transferring:  “Getting the A.A. degree and being protected under the CAA saved me at least three General Education courses at NC State and let me focus on my major requirements. It made everything far easier because I could take fewer Gen Ed courses when I transferred.”

He is pleased to have accomplished so much in the last several years at Durham Tech and NC State – and so are his parents.  “The ability to surprise your parents as a non-traditional student is very satisfying,” he says.  “I definitely won’t forget Durham Tech.”


Notes from the Field: ASUT Graduate Expands His Horizons in China

Daniel Pigeon graduated from Durham Tech with the Associate in Arts degree in May 2012 and participated in C-STEP and Phi Theta Kappa. Daniel Pigeon

Before moving to China, I was admittedly full of apprehension. What would it be like to live in a place with such a significantly different culture? How could I be an English teacher, when I don’t speak a lick of Mandarin Chinese? I had been accepted to UNC through the C-STEP program, but had already deferred enrollment for one year in order to teach English in China. Plus, I had been planning this trip for months—and had already used virtually all of my life’s savings to purchase a pricey plane ticket. Having passed the point of no return, all I could do was cross my fingers and hope for the best.

A city of almost three and a half million people called Ningbo—17 times the size of Durham—has become my new home. I am teaching English to kindergarteners, which is challenging yet lots of fun. The education system is structured a bit differently in China, and kindergartens are separate schools that house 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds. I have 26 classes a week with about 15 students in each class, for a grand total of more than 400 students! This may be the biggest gripe I have with my job—with so many students, getting to know the kids on a personal level, or even remembering their names, is next to impossible. The classes are only a half hour each, which is a saving grace when working with the younger classes. Attention spans tend to be short.

The main objective of this position is not to teach the children a great deal of English; at such a young age, they are still learning the fundamentals of their native tongue. Instead, I am building positive associations with learning the English language in my students, as well as creating a solid foundation for the mandatory English classes they will have over the next 12 years of their educational career. Songs, interactive games, and other activities that allow the students to have fun while learning are certainly the most effective methods to teach this age group. This works out fabulously for everyone-- we play a lot of “Red Light, Green Light” and “Simon Says”!

After almost three months of living and teaching English in China, I am admittedly still full of apprehension. The times when I feel completely overwhelmed, while far less frequent than my first week here, have not yet fully subsided. Nor do I expect them to. After all, I spent 24 years living in the United States, following its customs and cultural norms (and learning the language!). I can only imagine that it would require a similar length of time to truly learn how an entirely different society functions (and learn the language!). I have come to believe that the majority of the value in this experience is derived from the moments when I am most confused, uncomfortable, and otherwise out of my element. These moments demonstrate both the difficulty and the beauty of living in China.


Other ASUT Student ProfilesWill Farrell

Durham Tech was good to me. Early on, I took the ACA College Transfer Success class and made it a goal to transfer to NC State for engineering. Durham Tech was close; it was clean and organized. I always had a comfortable, quiet place to study and a green, sunny place to eat lunch. My classes were small, and my teachers were helpful. I formed lifetime friendships with people I met at Durham Tech. Thanks to the affordable tuition, financial aid, and a weekend job, I was able to transfer to NC State debt-free. I enjoyed my time at Durham Tech and am thankful that it helped me realize my goal.

William T. Lewis Jr.
Attended Durham Tech Spring 2009 – Spring 2010


Anly ThomasJust months after moving to the United States from India, I enrolled at Durham Technical Community College as a way to eventually move into a four-year university. I knew very little about the academic system in the United States.  Although I spoke and understood English quite well, my understanding of American culture was limited. I am glad Durham Tech became a stepping stone for my college career, because the college’s rich diversity helped me to adjust better. The teachers and the friends that I found there were supportive of me. They also helped me to better understand the American education system and cultural system.    

The teachers from Durham Tech were incredibly easy to talk to and were extremely kind with their guidance. Opportunities like Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and Carolina Student Transfer Excellency Program (C-STEP) at Durham Tech enabled me to go further with my academic goals and be more of a well-rounded individual. The teachers who taught me at Durham Tech were understanding of my qualms about fitting in.

I earned my AS degree from Durham Tech and transferred to Carolina in Fall 2009. Even though my initial semester after transferring to UNC- Chapel Hill was extremely difficult, I was able to pull through and be on the dean’s list for my last two semesters there. Though I had to change my study habits after my first semester at UNC, my academic experiences and positive encourage-ment from my mentors at Durham Tech helped me to work hard and wisely for my successes. Today, I have an Anthropology degree with a Religious Studies minor from UNC- Chapel Hill. I credit this to the advantages and openings that I experienced at Durham Tech, my parents, and God's grace.

Anly Thomas
Associate in Science Degree, July 2009


Ashley GardnerDevelop a Solid Foundation for Transfer to a Four-yaar College or University
“DTCC is not just a community college. It is a wonderful place where university transfer students, regardless of their background, get a solid foundation to transfer to a university of their choice. My experience at DTCC is unforgettable. With the support and help of my instructors and DTCC's staff, I was able to focus on school work and to eventually succeed. DTCC was indeed the bridge to my academic success. It was there that I got the crucial foundation to pursue my higher education.”

Nadege Delake
Asociate in Arts, Durham Tech 2007
Graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 2009 
M.S. in Peace Operations Policy, George Mason University 2012

High-Quality, Affordable Courses Prepare Students for Transfer
"I am pursuing a degree in engineering coming from a non-engineering background and moved to the Triangle for its education.  This decision was difficult because mathematics was not a foundation for my previous careers, and I had to start all over from Trigonometry at Durham Tech.

“I am currently enrolled at NC State but I'm taking Calc II at Durham Tech this semester and have a few things to say about Durham Tech.  In my opinion, the quality of Durham Tech's education is equal to that of NC State. In fact, it is better for beginning and intermediate courses because Durham Tech's learning environment is more supportive. For instance, Durham Tech has a full-time tutorial center available to its students at no cost.  NC State does not have such a formal support program, and the atmosphere can be competitive, with less supportiveness among students. 

“I have come a very long way in my mathematical proficiency at Durham Tech and could not have done it elsewhere.  I feel we are fortunate to have Durham Tech, and at such an affordable cost. Durham Tech is a wonderful resource of, and credit to, North Carolina. For the student pursuing an undergraduate or Master’s degree, taking courses here to transfer out later is a very good strategy.”

Sam Kwak
Currently taking Junior- and Senior-level Electrical Engineering courses at NCSU as a non-degree-seeking student to transfer credits to a Master’s Degree Program in 1-2 years

Natalia Silva HarwoodUniversity Transfer Student Returns to Durham Tech
Born and raised in Belém, a city at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil, Natalia Silva Harwood remembers carrying loads of dirty laundry in baskets on her head from the homes of wealthier families to her home.  There her mother would pump water and wash the clothes before Natalia and her brother carried them back to their owners.  One of her friends taught Natalia a few words in English, and she became fascinated by the language.  When her father brought home a discarded English textbook he found in the trash, then-ten-year-old Natalia spent hours learning the words by using the book’s glossary.  “Ever since I was little, I was focused on getting an education,” she recalled. 

As a teen, Natalia met one of her mother’s employers, Silvia, who worked for a cultural exchange organization that teaches English as a Second Language and facilitates study abroad in Brazil.  “Silvia became my guardian angel.   She paid my tuition to attend a private school to learn English,” said Natalia, who eventually went to work for Silvia advising students interested in studying abroad.

In the fall of 2001, having moved to the United States, Natalia decided to enroll at Durham Technical Community College.  It took her four years to finish her Associate in Arts degree, and she is quick to encourage first-generation college students and international students not to rush or feel discouraged if their programs take longer than expected.  “It takes time to adjust.  If you are first-generation and you don’t have a support network, it takes a while to understand the system, how things work,” she said. 

After Natalia graduated from Durham Tech, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Management degree online through the University of Phoenix while working to support herself.  Then she applied and was accepted to George Washington University in Washington, DC.  She completed a Master of Education degree in school counseling.  Of her accomplishments she said, “I had to beat so many odds coming from a bad environment.  In Belém, if you get a college degree and then graduate with a Master’s from George Washington, you’re a star!”  

At Durham Tech, we agree.  On March 1, Natalia began her new job at the college as a program assistant for the Center for the Global Learner.  She will work with international students and program directors on educational programs and support systems that encourage cultural exchange and global education.  Natalia credits Durham Tech faculty with encouraging her to continue her education.  The faculty here “just get it,” she said.  “They have knowledge and patience.  They guide students through the steps and walk with us – until they realize we are ready to do it on our own.  Then they let go and let the students shine, but they are still there if we need them.”  

Natalia Silva Hawood
Associate in Arts, Durham Tech 2005
Master of Education, George Washington University
Program Assistant for the Center for the Global Learner

Adolfo Obregon-SalinasI enrolled in the University Transfer program at Durham Tech because it was close to home and, to tell you the truth, I was pretty happy with the money I was saving. When I transferred to the Engineering department at NC State, I was scared that the courses at a large university, famous for having a great engineering program, would be too hard, but I quickly realized that the courses weren't that much different from the ones at Durham Tech. In fact, I found the math classes at Durham Tech to be a little more demanding than the ones at NCSU. I think it had something to do with the smaller class sizes and the personal interaction that you get with your professors at Durham Tech.  Since I received my Associate in Science degree at Durham Tech, I have graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, and I'm finishing my Master of Science degree in the Structural Engineering and Mechanics graduate program at NC State. I really enjoyed my time at Durham Tech and made two of my best friends there, too. They came to NCSU also to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering as part of the transfer program. I would recommend the University Transfer program at Durham Tech to anyone looking to save some money or looking to boost their college appeal for the admissions office at a large university. I believe that one of the main reasons I got accepted into the engineering program at NC State was because of how well I did while at Durham Tech.

Adolfo Obregon-Salinas
Durham Tech University Transfer graduate

For more information visit the University Transfer program pages,  or call 919-536-7223, ext. 8010

Durham Technical Community College
1637 East Lawson Street
Durham, NC 27703

Copyright ©Durham Technical Community College. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy l Conditions of Use