Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer Student Profiles

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Teresa Kane

Durham Tech 2014 (ASUT) / UNC 2016 (English)

Teresa KaneThrough it's C-STEP program, Durham Tech helped me transfer to UNC Chapel Hill. For me, Durham Tech was a place to start over after the defeating academic struggles I faced in high school. It was at Durham Tech that I met supportive instructors and understanding classmates. Those uplifting individuals helped me see what I was truly capable of accomplishing. I took my newfound belief in my abilities to Carolina when I transferred, and applied the values learned at Durham Tech. Each of these educational institutions is unique and in attending both of them I've gained an appreciation for the different realities to which each one has exposed me. Transferring successfully is an accomplishment in itself, and my journey would have been much more difficult had it not been for the support of advisors and coordinators at both Durham Tech and UNC. For the support, encouragement, and perspective received during the completion of my associates degree, I'm grateful. I'm proud of where I came from and I look forward to the future. #dogreatthings

Osiris Rankin

Osiris RankinWhen I came back to school in August 2010, I was 31 years old and had two goals: to be a father with sufficient and stable employment, and to provide a return on the investment that so many people had made in me. The rest was up in the air, especially the most important part: "How?"

When I enrolled at Durham Tech, I received my first gift: a fresh start. I had previously attended another community college out of state during my late teens and early twenties, but I was still wounded from high school experiences, and I was unfocused. My first 15 credits were all Fs, so it was an uphill battle to raise my GPA from a 0.00. When arrived at Durham Tech, though, none of those grades were there, and I still kept a lot of my credits. It was a 4.0 to me.

In my first semester, I eased in. As I was working full-time in retail in Chapel Hill, I wanted to be sure not to take on too much at once. I figured that success would lead to success, so I took five credits: College Transfer Success (ACA 122) with Kerry Cantwell and Precalculus Algebra (MAT 171) with Emma Borynski. Both were valuable classes, but ACA 122 helped me decide on a major (Psychology) and provided me with tools such as developing a plan of study, time management, organization, and developing smart goals that I still use today.

As my time at Durham Tech progressed, I became more confident, and my course load increased. I continued to work full-time and experienced a lot of support from my girlfriend (now my wife) and my teachers. Some of my outstanding instructors were Bonnie Tilson (Ethics), Gary Snyder (Psychology), John Cain (Psychology), Jonathan Cook (Literature), James DePalma (History). Christopher Mansfield (Math), and Elizabeth Penton (Humanities). I may be overlooking a person or two, but, on the whole, I was extremely satisfied with the supportive instruction that I received at Durham Tech.

With all of that support, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. It's one of the proudest accomplishments of my life because it was a feat that was so many years in the making. I had started many things in my life; this was something I finished. For the record, I had last made straight As for the whole year in the third grade, so this really was special.

Though I wasn't in the C-STEP program, I was able to take my Associate's Degree with me to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC, I worked as a peer mentor to other community college transfer students, and I also worked as a peer tutor. Capitalizing on the momentum and good habits that I built at Durham Tech, I earned my BA in Psychology with Highest Distinction and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

This is not to say that my transition to UNC was without challenge. There are always things that could be improved. However, I was very satisfied with my education at Durham Tech, and I feel it prepared me for what was ahead at UNC.

I’ve reached those two initial goals. I presently work in a mental health clinic affiliated with UNC, where I conduct research on the mental and physical health outcomes of our clients. My girlfriend and I are now married, and we have an eight-month-old son who is curious and smiles more than any baby I’ve ever met. It’s a joy to contribute to his development – and to see how concepts we discussed in Developmental Psychology play out in real life.

But, my main reason for feeling spurred to write is that I've recently completed the graduate school application process. At UNC, I realized that in order to reach the goals I set for myself, graduate school would be key. This past winter I applied to 13 different Psychology programs (mostly Clinical), and this spring I interviewed with 10 of them. These graduate programs are often very difficult to get into, with some boasting only 1% to 7% acceptance rates. When it was all said and done, I got into Harvard. I'll be studying suicide and self-destructive behaviors under Matthew Nock in Harvard's Clinical Psychology Program.

I think of myself as a creative person, but I never imagined when I started with two courses in August 2010 that I'd be studying at Harvard University in September 2016.

I mean, I failed my first senior year of high school, and, up to that point, I had been in community college for years with no degree. I was completely off the academic path for so long, that Harvard seemed inconceivable. Truth told, if I attempted to leap directly into Harvard without first going into Durham Tech and then UNC none of this would have happened. Durham Tech was a hugely important first step for me.

Hunter London

Hunter LondonWhen I was 28 years old I decided to return to college in pursuit of an Associate’s degree in Business Administration, a degree that I had started 10 years earlier at another college.

The obvious choice for me was Durham Tech, because I needed to maintain full-time employment, and was only able to attend classes in the early morning or late evening. However, once I started I quickly realized that Durham Tech had many additional advantages that would ultimately help me succeed (e.g., small class sizes and a convenient location). But the biggest factor to my success at Durham Tech was the quality teaching.

After taking a college algebra course with Professor Tim Woo, my life would forever change. Mr. Woo recognized that the material came naturally to me and thought I would be a prime candidate for the Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program. He encouraged me to take the digital circuits course. After the first day of class, I knew this was indeed the perfect fit for me and that EET, not business, would be my future career.

As it had before, my life took another twist when one semester before I was scheduled to finish my Associate’s degree, my wife’s job led her to Minnesota. And in another act of great advising, Mr. Woo asked my wife to promise that I would finish my bachelor’s degree elsewhere because he was so concerned that I was leaving Durham Tech without my Associate’s degree. I was able to keep that promise, partly due to the transferability of my Durham Tech credits.

I graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology two and a half years after leaving Durham Tech. I have been steadily employed since, and currently hold a great position as a motion control engineer. Without the guidance and education that I received at Durham Tech, I would have never imagined the benefits and the value of the engineering degree that I now have.


Andrew McCrae

Andrew McCraeAn honors student in ASUT, Andrew McCrae has been named a 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholar. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze Scholars, and providing nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually.

Andrew is on track to earn his Associate in Science degree this spring. On campus, he is active in the Student Senate as well as Phi Theta Kappa, and is engaged in C-STEP (Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program). Andrew has already been accepted into UNC-Chapel Hill, where he is planning to major in Exercise and Sports Science. He hopes to go on to earn his doctorate in physical therapy.“ Andrew McCrae is the kind of student who makes a strong and positive first impression on an instructor and administrator – and then continues to live up to and beyond that impression over time,” says Tracy Mancini, dean of Durham Tech’s ASUT program and Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor.

Phi Theta Kappa will recognize the scholars at this year’s annual convention taking place April 16 – 18 in San Antonio, Texas. “We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for their vote of confidence in community college students by investing in their futures,” said Dr. Rod Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa. “Their support is especially welcome during this challenging economic climate, as more and more community college students need additional resources to help them complete their degrees.”

More than 1,700 applications were received by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation this year. Each Silver Scholar receives a $1,250 scholarship and a special medallion. An independent panel of judges considers outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards, and engagement in college and community service in the selection process.

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,“ said J. Mark Davis, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, Peru, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. More than 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.


Nathan Staffa

Nathan Staffa“Forget your misconceptions about what it means to go to community college. Durham Tech will rise to meet – and exceed – your expectations, challenge you as a student, help you become a more worldly individual, and accompany you on your path as far as you want to go. Within these walls lie the tools with which you may shape your future as you see fit – the only missing piece is you.”

2012 Associate in Science /University Transfer Program
Member Phi Theta Kappa, Academic Honor Society
Member Sigma Delta Mu, Spanish Honor Society
Currently studying Computer Science at Stanford University


Saad Rahimuddin

Saad Rahimuddin“Durham Tech was a critical building block to prepare me to step up to a four-year institution. The study tracks and the lab experience I got were very hands-on, just like in industry, so I feel very prepared to complete my undergraduate degree and move on to a career in Pharmaceutical Sciences.”

2012 Associate in Science, graduated with honors
Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society
2014 BRITE Scholarship Recipient


WinnieHope B. Mamboleo

WinnieHope B. Mamboleo“I was born in Kenya, Africa, and my family moved to the United States when I was 15. I graduated from Cary High School. I applied to NC State, but was deferred; Durham Tech gave me the chance to model my academic path to best achieve my career goals. Now I’ll be enrolling as a junior at State, thanks to the tremendous opportunities I found here. My experience as part of the Durham Tech ‘family’ has been beyond rewarding, and an amazing experience all around. It’s been a big part of my transition into adulthood.”

Associate in Science Program, graduating May 2015 Transferring to NC State University to study Aerospace Engineering
Student Senator for Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society
Honors projects in Calculus, Technology and Society courses
Newton Scholarship Recipient


Teresa Clayton

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 Stammes

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.