Student Profiles

Ready for the next chapter in your life? Considering your options? These Durham Tech students offer their success stories to help you learn how a degree, diploma, or certificate can lead to new career opportunities.

Alumn Navid NasimRead Durham Tech alum Navid Nesab's update. He started at Durham Tech, earning an Associate in Science degree with highest honors, then transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill as part of the C-STEP program.





Student Sarah PohligSarah Pohlig

Before Durham Tech: Underemployed single parent
After Durham Tech: A career in information technology

As soon as I finish at Durham Tech, I’m ready for my career to start! I already have potential positions lined up that'll enable me to earn a secure living. Above all, I want to show my little girl that we can do almost anything we want, as long as we work hard at it and find a strong community. We’ve been helped by so many people along the way. Read more about Sarah


Student Harper Ragin Harper Ragin

Before Durham Tech: High-school dropout
After Durham Tech: Mathematics degree from UNC-CH

I try to recall the feeling of disbelief in myself, the sheer lack of faith that I could do things that were difficult. I never believed that I would be able to apply to a school like UNC, let alone get accepted. My time at Durham Tech and the people I met showed me the true and utter nonsense of those beliefs. I carry the memories of Durham Tech with me, and those hold me up in a way I know is special.


Student Navid NasimOscar Santoyo

Before Durham Tech: Immigration from Mexico in pursuit of a better future
After Durham Tech: A degree in civil engineering from NC State

I am about to graduate from Durham Tech’s Middle College High School. Durham Tech has given me the great opportunity of earning college credit while completing high school. After high school, I plan to get my associate’s degree from Durham Tech and then an engineering degree.

University Transfer Program

Alumn Palestine Small

Palestine Small
Associate in Arts
“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 ... Be committed to the task, take steps to get there, and keep moving forward.”
Alumn Jonas Feit Jonas Feit
Associate in Arts
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.

Alumn Anly Thomas

Anly Thomas
Associate in Science
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.
 AlumnAdolfo Obregon-Salinas Adolfo Obregon-Salinas
University Transfer
“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."

Spanish Certificates

Alumn Odarely Bejar

Odarely Bejar
Medical Spanish Certificate
“I always love going to work,” Bejar said. She would like a job that combines her medical and facilitator expertise, perhaps in patient relations.
Alumn Laurel Foote-Hudson Laurel Foote-Hudson
Spanish Language Certificate
”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. I’ve expanded my vocabulary, and built my analytical and writing skills.”

Health Technologies

Alumn Haile Whitworth

Emily Kendall
Respiratory Therapy
“We received a lot of exposure to local area hospitals, which really helped in finding a job.”
Alumn Holder Teresa Holder
Medical Assisting
"You are trained from the front desk to the laboratory," said Holder. The Medical Assisting program includes a real-life 10-week summer "externship" in area ambulatory care settings.

Alumn Anjanette East

Anjanette East
Surgical Technology
The program is challenging, but challenges don’t faze East. “The instructors encourage you and are dedicated to the success of every student,” she said. “They prepare you to be ready for the surgical environment.” Her instructors even helped her in her job search.

Alumn Houa Yang

Houa Yang
Dental Laboratory Technology
Houa Yang first heard about Durham Tech's Dental Laboratory Technology program from a friend who had completed the program. Though the work is intricate, Yang said artistic talent is not required. Practice, however, is definitely required. “When you practice a lot, you catch on fast,” he said.
Alumn Wincent Fontenelle Wincent Fontenelle
Associate Degree Nursing
“It’s a tough program,” Fontenelle said. “But with the help of my husband, Pius, and my family, I had the support system I needed.” The instructors are excellent, she said. She thinks the curriculum provided her with all the skills needed to be a nurse.
Alumn Michael Simosky Michael Simosky
Licensed Practical Nursing
Real camaraderie existed among the students. He helped organize study sessions with other students and has kept in touch with many of them. They all have obtained jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, or other facilities. Simosky decided to continue his education through Durham Tech’s LPN to Registered Nurse (RN) program. He takes courses on the weekends so he can work during the week.

Alumn Debbie Baker

Debbie Baker
Health Information Technology
“My hope is to find a career niche in which I can use my computer programming background, pharmacy knowledge, and my Health Information Technology knowledge.”

Alumn Latoria Lennon

Latoria Lennon
Health Information Technology
“Coding is an ideal job for me,” Lennon said. “I love analyzing the health information. You’re investigating and solving a puzzle. You are trying to make sure that claims are being filed correctly and paid properly. It’s a career that is expanding every day.”

Alumn Ashley Gardner

Ashley Gardner
Medical Assisting
Gardner enjoyed the hands-on clinical experience of a physician’s office. “You’re doing everything from greeting patients to checking vital signs to helping a doctor with procedures,” she says.

Alumn David Eade

David Eade
Clinical Trials Research Associate
“In this field I’m still helping people, like in nursing,” he says. “But this is data intense. You’re reporting scientific findings. The pace is fast, but instructors are always there to help. It takes many years to learn on the job what I learned at Durham Tech in two years.”

Alumn Megan Pollock

Megan Pollock
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Megan Pollock is an occupational therapy assistant who specializes in eating disorders at UNC-Hospitals’ Psychiatry Department. Her career advice to students is to figure out exactly what motivates them. “Don't just rush into something. Take a break from school like I did if you need to,” she says.

Alumn Tamika Poole

Tamika Poole
Medical Office Administration
Poole loved the individual attention she received at Durham Tech. “The instructors are always willing to answer any questions,” she says. “They also encouraged you to speak your mind during class.”  Probably her favorite part of the program has been the cooperative experience at Duke Medical Center’s Harps Mill Internal Medicine Clinic.

Alumn Christina Hobgood

Christina Hobgood
Surgical Technology
“I originally thought about nursing. Then I looked at Durham Tech’s Surgical Technology program,” she recalls. She’d always liked the intensity of operating rooms on TV. But real life? “I think I really loved the idea of patient contact and being a patient’s advocate.”

Alumn Shawn King

Shawn King
Associate Degree Nursing
In August, King accepted a position as a nurse at the Veterans Affairs Community Living Center for Extended and Respite Care. “I feel like I was made for this job,” King said. “I know I’m really helping people who need me.” 

Alumn Desiree Ferguson

Desiree Ferguson
Practical Nursing
“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.”
Alumn Heather McKay Heather McKay
Occupational Therapy Assistant
"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.”

Chi Donaldon

Chi Donaldson
Clinical Trials Research Associate
Chi's advice to prospective students is to take advantage of the many opportunities available outside the classroom, including internships. “Your approach should be to learn as much as possible, work very diligently, and show all the initiative that you can,” she says. She recommends that students volunteer for college-sponsored activities, join academic groups, and participate in professional organizations.
Alumn Amanda Shirley Amanda Shirley
Certified Nursing Assistant
"In the CNA program, you learn about taking blood pressure, temperatures, how to help patients move around, how to feed and care for them. It really is a wonderful entry-level course.”
Alumni Joan and Terry Harris Joan and Terry Harris
"If this program was not online, I couldn't have done it. The teachers are awesome. They really want you to succeed."

Applied and Public Service Technologies

Alumn  Calvin Vaughan Calvin Vaughan
Criminal Justice
"This isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. 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."
Alumn  Thomas Verrault Thomas Verrault
Criminal Justice
“You are a much more competitive job applicant with a degree, and the knowledge you gain makes you a better officer.”

Alumn  Haile Whitworth

Haile Whitworth
Sustainability Technologies
“I like the fact it is an up-and-coming field,” Whitworth said. “I’m learning more about energy preservation and the renewable energy field, which are not as well known. I feel this will open some business opportunities that I may not have been aware of before entering the program.”

Alumn  Joel Pendergraft

Joel Pendergraft
Machining Technology
“I signed up for just 20 hours,” he said. ”I'd been out of school for so long. I'm a perfectionist, but I feared I wouldn't excel.” He needn't have worried. He completed two semesters of work in one semester with top grades. After he completes the program, Pendergraft plans to establish a small home business, contracting with area companies that need hand-crafted parts.

Alumn  Mike Rogers

Mike Rogers
Industrial Systems Technology
Mike Rogers had been looking for any job in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for nearly seven months. “Within two weeks of completing the Industrial Systems Technology program at Durham Tech, I had three job offers,” he recalls.

Alumn  Frank Simmons

Frank Simmons
Electrical/Electronics Technology
His instructors made what might be called a “dry subject” fascinating. “Mr. Crutchfield’s [the program director] classes are like a suspense novel. You have to be in class the next day to hear what happens next. His lectures make you think,” Simmons said.

Alumn  John Ford

John Ford
Emergency Preparedness Technology
“I had thought about transitioning into emergency management and thought the best place to find a new challenge would be working for the federal government, specifically FEMA,” Ford explained. “Durham Tech was really the launching pad for me both academically and professionally.”
Alumn  Debbie Hauser Debbie Hauser
Environment, Health, and Safety Technology program
“The time was right,” Hauser said. The fact that most of the courses were offered online and the labs were offered on weekends or evenings appealed to her. She was able to put much of the knowledge from her courses into use immediately by acquiring additional duties in her current position.

Alumn  Kevin Thorpe

Kevin Thorpe
Machining Technology
“I liked everything in my courses and was never bored.” At Durham Tech, Thorpe received much individual attention. “Instructors watched what you did and helped you.” In a recent Manpower, Inc., survey, skilled machinists are the second hardest job to fill in the U.S., just behind engineers
Alumn  Karin Mills Karin Mills
HVAC Certificate
“The program arms you with all the information you need to go out and do a job. At work, I refer back to every course I took. I’ve acquired a whole other set of skills.”
Alumn  Joshua Bumgarner Joshua Bumgarner
Electrical/Electronics Technology
"I thought I'd be taking classes in which I'd know most everything. That's not how it is at all," he said. "We see stuff in class that some advanced professionals don't see for a long time."

Business and Education

Alumn  Tara Lighbourne-Pratt

Tara Lightbourne-Pratt
Computer Programming
She was able to schedule her courses on Mondays through Thursdays and work some part-time hours with a caterer on weekends. She was surprised at the attention she received from her instructors. “Anytime I needed help, they were there”

Alumn  Abbi Tenaglia

Abbi Tenaglia
“It will seem like you'll be in school forever, but there are some very encouraging people at Durham Tech. You will get more out of the experience by slowing down and doing excellent work in each class.”

Alumn  Jessica Phelps

Jessica Phelps
School-Age Education
Through her Durham Tech courses, Phelps has come to understand better what makes them tick. “I love learning about children and can't wait to make a career out of something I love,” Phelps says. Once on the job, she will do everything from planning classroom programs to communicating with parents.

Alumn  Rosa Blad

Rosa Blad
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.

Alumn  Christina Hobgood

Megan Wilkinson
Business Administration
Megan Wilkinson initially entered Durham Tech to save costs on tuition. She then discovered there were many benefits. “The instructors really took the time to help you.”
Alumn  Amanda Shirley Vickcine Grant
Early Childhood Education
"I liked all my courses and all the teachers," Grant said. One favorite course focused on creative activities for children. This course helped me become more creative and think of activities I could plan," she said.

Information Technologies

Alumn  Joel Coldren

Joel Coldren
Computer Programming
“The instructors were knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” he recalled. “They gave concrete examples, not something vague.” Coldren loved the atmosphere and small class sizes and particularly enjoyed finding logical solutions for computer problems.

Alumn  Doug Schepers

Doug Schepers
Computer Programming
instructors had jobs in the computer programming and consulting fields, and Schepers learned much more than theory. Their material focused on how to accomplish pragmatic tasks, he said.

Alumn  Lester Barrios

Lester Barrios
Networking Technologies
“When I began taking the Networking courses, it was love at first sight. The instructors gave me problems to solve, and I solved them right away.”

Alumn  Astrid Gatling

Astrid Gatling
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.”
Medical Office Administration Sarah Grueller, Octavia Fitzpatrick, and Terri Godwin
Medical Office Administration
"I didn't have a medical background, but I learned the terminology, how to type faster, and I sharpened my computer skills."
Alumn  Lisa Lee Lisa Lee
Web Technologies
Lisa's instructors describe her as "a dedicated student destined for success." Lisa says "I want to be the best role model possible for her as well as for other girls and single mothers."

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