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Student Profiles

Rosa BladA Solid Accounting Foundation Equals Career Readiness in a High-Demand Field 
Accounting graduates have many career opportunities. Whether they choose positions in the private sector or with governmental or non-profit agencies, our students excel in the workplace. Durham Tech's student-friendly class size and the mentoring offered by instructors go a long way in raising the confidence level of those enrolled.

The Accounting program offers an associate degree. In addition, many students wanting to sit for the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) examination come to Durham Tech for courses that fulfill state requirements.

Rosa Blad was a certified public accountant and auditor in her native Peru. When she moved to the U.S., she came to Durham Tech to prepare for the U.S. CPA exam. But her Durham Tech Accounting courses taught her far more than she ever imagined they would. Her courses helped her fully understand U.S. tax laws, bookkeeping procedures, and general accounting processes. There was a bonus. “I couldn’t speak English well, and my courses made me use my English,” said Blad, speaking in perfect English.

Upon completion of the Accounting program, Blad completed tax returns for friends and neighbors. She scheduled her work responsibilities to fit in with her “mom” duties. Blad quickly became confident enough to start a small bookkeeping and tax return business, Global Accounting I, Inc.

Today she has expanded her company, which is well known for both corporate and personal accounting. Blad assists Hispanic and American business owners in becoming more knowledgeable about the U.S. tax system and about operating a business.

Astrid GatlingStudent New to Computers Finds Career Happiness in Networking Technologies
“When I started the Networking Technologies curriculum at Durham Tech, I didn't know anything about computers,” recalls Astrid Gatling. “But I thought computers were cool and I wanted to give the program a try.”

The demand in the networking field is growing with the need for entry-level employees continuing to increase. Students in the Networking Technologies program learn about servers, network devices and the design and management of networks.

Gatling has learned not to be intimidated by computers in her Networking Technologies courses. “What I learned has helped me with real world stuff, but mostly has helped me understand basic principles and apply them to the tasks at hand,” she said.

Her teachers have been helpful. “Several people really helped me along when I was clueless about what I should do next,” she said.

Gatling gained additional hands-on skills through an internship with Duke University. Then, after receiving her associate degree, she accepted a permanent position there. Her responsibilities include user desktop support and network troubleshooting, as well as user education about computer software and hardware.

“You could say I'm a "Jane of all trades" when it comes to my job,” she says. “If something needs fixing, I take care of it.”

Gatling has continued to take computer classes at Durham Tech. She has already completed the Cisco Networking Academy courses and passed the certification exam. What next? She is now enrolled as a student in the college’s Information Systems Security curriculum.

Desiree FergusonThe Practical Nursing Job Outlook is Excellent!
Like many little girls, Desiree Ferguson wanted to be just like her mother. “My mother is a nurse. As I got older and realized just what she did and the impact she had on her patients, I knew that one day I wanted to do the same.”
Ferguson first entered the nursing profession as a Certified Nursing Assistant and became a Medical Assistant in primary and urgent care offices. Those experiences led her to further her education at Durham Tech. “The instructors have always been encouraging,” Ferguson said. “They were tough, but fair.” During her student clinical work, she enjoyed working in area hospitals, nursing homes, daycare centers, and clinics. Ferguson received much support on the home front from her husband and four children. “They were extremely patient and understanding,” she said.

Ferguson currently works at Hillside Nursing Center in Wake Forest. A typical shift includes administering medication, performing and charting health assessments, carrying out doctors’ orders, and managing staff.  “Durham Tech really prepared me for the workforce,” she said. 

Durham Tech’s Practical Nursing graduates are very much in demand. Students receive intensive classroom instruction and clinical rotations in local hospitals and health care agencies. Upon completion of their course work, Practical Nurses earn a diploma and are then eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). Durham Tech’s most recent Practical Nursing class boasted a 94 percent pass rate for first-time exam takers.  

Practical Nursing students work in community health, general practice, geriatric, OB/GYN, surgery, pediatrics, mental health, emergency care, and other areas. 

Heather McKayOccupational Therapy Assistants Improve Quality of Life for Work, Home, and Play
Imagine recovering from an injury. Consider adapting to life in a wheelchair. Occupational Therapy Assistants help people regain skills and assist them in living more independently. OTA professionals work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, nursing homes, community settings, home health agencies, and other health care settings.

“We help our clients be who they want to be, despite their illness,” said Heather McKay, a graduate of Durham Tech’s OTA program. “This is one of the most caring professions.” McKay works at Hillcrest Convalescent Center in Durham. She loves interacting with patients and “not being stuck behind a desk.” McKay already earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. But it was a Durham Tech brochure for the OTA program that steered her toward the work she loves. McKay returned to college to earn an associate degree in OTA from Durham Tech.  

“This program gave me the keys. The hands-on skills I learned at Durham Tech have given me a competitive edge in every job interview or national exam I’ve ever had,” McKay said. “Aside from my parents, DTCC faculty members have cared more about my career than any place I’ve been.” McKay enjoys the Occupational Therapy field so much that she went on to earn her master’s degree in her field.

Bob GingrichFormer Respiratory Therapy Student Returns to Teach   
After a few of years of repairing violins and working for a carpentry company, Bob Gingrich wanted a more stable job to support his family.

“My wife had been a nurse practitioner for many years and I saw that the medical field could be a real possibility for me,” he recalled. Gingrich enrolled in Durham Tech’s Associate Degree Nursing program. Because of the ADN waiting list, an instructor suggested that Gingrich check out Respiratory Therapy. 

“Respiratory Therapy is a combination of math, science, a little art, mechanics, and patient interaction. That really appealed to me,” he said. Before graduation, he worked for a year in Respiratory Therapy at Duke University Medical Center and then in the pediatric and neonatal intensive care units at UNC Hospitals. “I’ve really enjoyed helping the babies and small children recover, as well as helping educate parents of the kids with chronic respiratory problems.” Gingrich was chosen to be a team member on the UNC Air Care pediatric team.

Several years ago, Gingrich accepted an offer to return to Durham Tech as the clinical instructor working primarily at UNC Hospitals. “It’s wonderful to see the eyes of my students light up and understand a concept that was foreign to them just moments before,” he said.

Calvin VaughanCriminal Justice Student Discovers a Calling, Not Just a Job
Students in the Criminal Justice program study a comprehensive curriculum, including local, state, and federal law enforcement, corrections, court procedure, and evidence presentation. They learn about juvenile justice, investigative techniques and crime scene processing, legal concepts, and case law. Students master skills in collecting and presenting evidence, forensic lab and crime scene processing, and much more. 

The 70-hour credit program can be completed in five semesters. Durham Tech graduates find government jobs as well as positions in private enterprise. Many students continue their studies by transferring to universities. Articulation agreements with the University of North Carolina System and private universities make it easier to transfer into undergraduate programs.

After a career in the U.S. Army, Calvin Vaughan took a job working for a security company. “I’d wanted to go to college but had been discouraged by my high school guidance counselor,” he recalled. With the encouragement of his wife, Jeanette, he contacted Durham Tech. “I was concerned because I’d been out of school for more than 10 years,” he said. After taking a placement test, Vaughan chose Criminal Justice as his major.

Vaughan learned that the Criminal Justice program had both day and evening programs and also offered some online courses. He attended Durham Tech full time during the day while working the 2nd or 3rd shift at his job. “I became very interested in some issues and problems in juvenile justice,” he said. Vaughan credits the program director, Doug Scott, with being a mentor to him. “He was always someone you could go to,” he said. 

He earned an associate degree with honors after three years of study at Durham Tech and continued his education at N.C. Central University, graduating magna cum laude. While at N.C. Central, Vaughan worked at the C.A. Dillon Youth Development Center. Today he works at the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as a juvenile court counselor.
“This isn’t just a job, it’s a calling,” said Vaughan, who is now pursuing a master’s degree. Vaughan admits attending college and working full time is not a cakewalk. “It was difficult at times, but it is ‘do-able.’ You have to have a real desire to be successful and be willing to make some sacrifices,” he said.

Karin MillsRestaurant Owner Earns an HVAC Certificate That Helps Her Business
As the co-owner of two restaurants, Karin Mills is a very busy woman. There’s so much to keep up with. For example, her restaurant in Durham, Francesca’s Dessert Café, has 30 separate units of refrigeration. There is the walk-in cooler, the reach-in cooler, the freezer, the pasteurizer, the beverage cooler  . . . and more. There is always repair work. When a trusted service professional left the business, Mills had concerns about other companies’ work. 

“I got fed up with some of the repair bills,” said Mills. She was not looking for a new career but she did want to understand refrigeration and be able to monitor the work of service people. She thought about taking courses at Durham Tech, but wondered if she had time. However, she learned that Durham Tech’s Industrial Systems Technology program is available during both day and evening courses. This five-semester program provides students with the knowledge and skills to service, maintain, repair, and install electrical, plumbing, and other industrial systems. The program prepares students to work for industrial systems companies, but many go into business for themselves. 

Mills decided to pursue the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) certificate in Fall 2006 to learn not only about refrigeration but other areas that would help her run her restaurants. She completed the certificate in a year. Mills learned all about refrigeration, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, safety, and maintenance. “The program arms you with all the information you need to go out and do a job,” she said. “At work, I refer back to every course I took. I’ve acquired a whole other set of skills.”

Laurel Foote-HudsonSpanish Language Certificate Broadens Student's Skills
Durham Tech’s Spanish Community Facilitator Certificate was just what Lauren Foote-Hudson needed to sharpen her Spanish writing, speaking, and reading skills for a career in languages. She recently graduated from UNC – Chapel Hill with degrees in both Spanish and Japanese. She is weighing graduate school options, including studying abroad. 

“I had some down time after graduating,” she said. “I was trying to decide on how to use my languages in my career and my parents mentioned Tech taking some courses at Durham Tech," Foote-Hudson said. The Spanish Language certificate courses have taken her skills to the next level. ”I’ve expanded my vocabulary, and built my analytical and writing skills,” she said.“ Writing essays has definitely strengthened her writing skills.

Speaking Spanish in a small classroom setting with people of varying ages has not only improved her conversational skills but has been fun, she said. Foote-Hudson is considering a teaching career but now the Spanish Language certificate courses have expanded her horizons to a wider range of career opportunities.

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