Charlotte Observer: From High School Dropout to Princeton

Christopher St. Hilaire felt isolated in high school and dropped out at just 15 years old. He later completed his studies, earning his GED from Central Piedmont in 2015. He immediately joined the workforce, working as a server at Ballantyne Country Club. A club member recognized St. Hilaire’s potential and urged him to go back to school. Thankfully, St. Hilaire heeded his friend’s advice and enrolled where he was most familiar: Central Piedmont.

“I came in with a mission. I came in with a goal … to make something happen. And I think the biggest takeaway from my experience is that, yes, what I do matters, but also that what community college students do matters. That just because you’re attending a community college doesn’t mean that what you do is any less important than what someone does at Princeton or at Harvard. It matters.”

Back on campus, St. Hilaire decided to be a part of everything the college community had to offer – Student Government Association, Rotaract, Model UN and Phi Theta Kappa. He excelled at Central Piedmont, and will graduate this week with an Associate (Transfer) Degree. This fall, St. Hilaire will move to New Jersey, where he will study philosophy at Princeton University on a full scholarship as one of only 13 community college students in the country to be admitted to the Ivy League school for the fall term.

“You can make something happen, too. You really can. You can make something great happen. You can transform your life. … I mean, Central Piedmont’s motto is ‘Conquer Possibility. So why not try?”  says St. Hilaire.

Charlotte Observer Article: Congo Native Faced Two Civil Wars; Thursday, He Graduates from CPCC With Two Degrees

As Alvan Makoundi-Tchibinda walks across the stage with nearly 800 others at Central Piedmont Community College on Thursday, he leaves with two degrees. He also completes an obligation to his family in central Africa.

And now he is free to imagine a life of his own design.

Born in the nation of Congo, Makoundi-Tchibinda, 22, lived through two civil wars as a child before coming to the United States for college at 18.

Attend “Our Times Re-Imagined: A Distinguished Speakers Series” with Bryan Stevenson and Ted Shaw for FREE!

CPCC students are invited to attend  “Our Times Re-Imagined: A Distinguished Speakers Series” with Bryan Stevenson and Ted Shaw, a free event, being sponsored by Bank of America, the Levine Museum of the New South and the Charlotte Observer on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the McGlohon Theater in Spirit Square.

Fifty years since passage of the Voting Rights Act to end racial discrimination in voting, what is the state of civil rights today in the United States? Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, together with UNC Chapel Hill’s Ted Shaw will discuss civil rights, justice and hope for the future during this special event.

Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Most recently, Stevenson and the EJI released a history of lynchings in the South that documented more than 4,000 cases.

Stevenson will take the stage first to discuss his new memoir, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” the story of a young lawyer fighting on the racial injustice frontlines.

He’ll later be joined on stage by Shaw, director of The Center for Civil Rights at UNC School of Law and the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law. The pair will discuss civil rights matters of the day and take questions from the audience.

This inspiring evening is part of Our Times Re-imagined: A Distinguished Speakers Series from Bank of America and the Charlotte Observer. It’s hosted in partnership with Levine Museum of the New South and in celebration of the two-year exhibit and program series Destination Freedom: Civil Rights Struggles Then and Now.

While the event is free to CPCC students, students are still asked to reserve a ticket. Tickets go on sale April 1 here.


CPCC and Charlotte Bridge Home Collaborate to Connect Veterans to Jobs and Support Services

CPCC and Charlotte Bridge Home (a non-profit organization established to assist veterans in Charlotte-Mecklenburg) are working together to assist veterans in obtaining meaningful employment and access to needed support services.

Veteran's Day Flag Ceremony

CPCC's Veteran's Day Flag Ceremony.

The Veterans’ Employment and Support Initiative seeks to address the near 11.5% unemployment rate among veterans. CPCC will provide veterans with career counseling and the training to equip them with the skills in demand by area employers. Charlotte Bridge Home will link veterans to services in the community and will work with employers to increase awareness of veterans’ employment needs.

To make a gift to support this initiative visit Please fill in “Specify Department/Program” space on form with “VEI” for Veterans Employment Initiative.

For additional information, please read the Charlotte Observer article about this initiative: