Staff Spotlight: Rachel Megahan receives SSS Award at holiday party

Rachel holding her awardRachel Megahan, Disability Counselor, received the Student Success Services (SSS) award at the annual SSS holiday party on December 14th. She was nominated by her peers for her positive attitude, resourcefulness, and diligent work with staff, faculty, and students. The award was presented to her by the Associate Vice President of SSS, Rita Dawkins, during the event.

Not only did she win the SSS award, but she also took home “Best Dressed” for the Ugly Sweater contest at the party. She had plenty of holiday spirit to show off! Her attire and enthusiasm helped her win the prize of 2 tickets to a CPCC theater show. Pictured below are all of the Ugly Sweater Contest contestants.

Ugly Sweater Contestants Well done Rachel on your award and prize! You certainly earned them both! We are proud of you!


Staff Spotlight: Tina Hardin receives the Dr. Mel Gay Legacy Award at Levine Campus holiday party

Tina Hardin receives Mel Gay Legacy award

One of our very own team members, Tina Hardin, received the Dr. Mel Gay Legacy Award last week at the Levine Campus holiday party. She was one of two staff members to receive the award. Barry Gilmore is the second recipient. They were both presented this award by Dr. Gay’s wife, Dail Gay, pictured above with Barry and Tina.

Reginald Pincham, ESS Director of Levine Campus, wrote about the award and the recipients:

Our Dr. Mel Gay Legacy Award winners were selected because they demonstrate the characteristics that the late Dr. Mel Gay exhibited as our leader on the Levine campus: Commitment, Enthusiasm, Communication, Patience and Teamwork.

Here are some of the comments team members said about both Barry and Tina:


Barry Gilmore, Full-Time team member:

  • He is constantly thinking of ways to better serve students, faculty and staff. He is always concerned about the “Culture of Levine” and how he can affect that culture. If there is a way to advance the culture of unselfishness, the destruction of the silo mentality on Levine campus and have fun while learning he is exploring a way to achieve it.
  • He has an amazing level of commitment to our staff, students and faculty and he carries an enthusiasm and energy for his department that shines through.
  • He displays a great love and caring spirit for the students he serves and is an advocate for student unity.

Tina Hardin, Part-Time team member:

  • This employee is a joy to work with and clearly demonstrates and embodies the Mel Gay Legacy award criteria.
  • She is caring, kind and responsive to both students and colleagues.
  • She is very patient with everyone, extremely knowledgeable about her department’s role at CPCC and displays a great passion for the service she gives to students.

Disability Services is extremely proud of Tina. Congratulations on this well-deserved award!


Student Spotlight: Toni Cordell

Toni Cordell, CPCC student and author

Written by Laurie Jachym

Toni Cordell is a true success story of a CPCC student. Although she has faced many challenges throughout her life, she refuses to give up. Now at the age of 73, she continues to passionately pursue her dreams with no intent of stopping.

Toni is a self-identified student with a disability. She began working with a Disability Counselor only 3 years ago. However, she has been a student at the college for a number of years. Before she came to CPCC, she never received accommodations at any point in her educational career, but she believes she was undiagnosed with a learning disability. This was a true struggle according to Toni. Her experience in the educational system as a child with an undiagnosed learning disability was difficult and traumatic. She recalls being aware very early on that she knew that other students were more academically inclined than her. She felt “stupid, like a throw away human being”. She was disappointed that nothing was done to help her as a student during her years in the K-12 school system.

Even though she struggled, she persevered and graduated from high school. She was married a few years later and started a family. Both of her adult children are now very successful in their fields, even though her son was diagnosed with dyslexia. She experienced some troubling times in her personal life, with the loss of a loving spouse, and another marriage that was abusive. However she maintains a strong connection with her children and their families. She also found love in a new spouse and is now happily married.

At the age of 69 she enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College. Toni states that she felt “amazing” and her life improved in so many ways as a result of her involvement with the college. By joining TRiO, Student Life, and PTK, she found a positive community of staff and students that she bonds with, even to this day. She calls it “comradery of compassion”. By surrounding herself with others who she felt like are “committed to your success” she was able to flourish in the educational environment.

It was not until after she sustained a head injury from a bus accident that she was referred to Disability Services. She notes that her short-term memory worsened as a result of this accident. She also noticed challenges with test anxiety, especially with her math classes. She credits her participation in tutoring through TRiO and the Academic Learning Center helped her get through some of the most difficult classes that she faced.

Through this experience, she realized that finding the right math tutor was crucial to her success. Toni provided some words of advice for anyone who is faced with this type of challenge:

“It is essential to feel safe. I worked with a tutor once who wasn’t helpful to me. Math was never easy for me, so don’t tell me ‘it’s easy’ because it’s not easy for me. I always felt like others had power over me. But this time I had to walk away and try something new. Once I did, I found the right tutor for me and it didn’t make me feel stupid anymore.”

Toni’s decision to take initiative and advocate for herself brought her to a better place with her tutoring. By finding a new tutor who was a better fit for her learning style, attending the TRiO workshops, and using her accommodations from Disability Services, she successfully completed her last math requirements last spring and graduated with her Associates in Arts. I was lucky enough to see Toni graduate as I was volunteering at the ceremony in May. It was a very touching moment to see her cross the stage and hug her classmates with feelings of joy that were written all over her face. I know that was a great day for her.

And Toni has not stopped there! She continues to take classes at CPCC and she completed her first book this year! The idea for her book occurred to her years ago, and she finished it this year with the help of some fellow CPCC students. Dakar Justice did the illustrations, who Toni met through a Man Up leadership conference at CPCC. Also another CPCC student, Sara Dir, was Toni’s administrative assistant and she is assisted Toni with publishing and selling her book.

Toni's book, "The Puppy on the Other Side of the Pond"

She also credits Liz Rodgers as her motivation and inspiration to become a writer. She explained that taking Instructor Rodgers’ classes helped her find her “writer’s voice.” Toni explains about being a writer,

“I have the courage to write because I’m afraid to fail.”

Toni’s book is titled “The Puppy on the Other Side of the Pond.” Her inspiration to write the book came from her childhood experiences:

“I was never read to as a child. I wrote this book in my own voice for a child.”

The book is all about acceptance and looking beyond our differences. It was important to Toni that she teach children a life lesson with the book. After the story, there are discussion questions in the book to help stimulate conversations between adults and children about the book’s message. Finally, at the end of the book, Toni describes two charities that she has partnered with to donate 10% of the sales towards the charities, which are Freedom School Partners and 4 Paws for Ability.

I could go on and on about Toni, she has many more adventures and stories that I have not even told you about yet! Toni could literally write a beautiful book about her life….maybe one day she will! I hope this student spotlight inspires you to chase your dreams no matter where you are in your life and what obstacles you face. It’s never too late!




Staff Spotlight: Valerie Johnson, Administrative Assistant II

Valerie “Val” Johnson works on the front lines and behind the scenes to make Disability Services run smoothly. She shows true dedication and commitment to the department and the college every day on the job. Her helper personality drives her to go the extra mile for students and the staff. As a result she won the employee recognition award for Student Success Services in 2014, which was very well deserved. She is also very active within the college and outside of work to provide help and service to the community.

Here is some Q & A with Valerie to help you get to know her better!

Valerie Johnson, Administrative Assistant II

Q: How long have you worked at CPCC?
A: I worked part-time at CPCC as an Accounting Clerk at the Harris Campus from June 2006 –2007. I returned in February 2010 as a part-time Senior Administrative Clerk for Disability Services. In 2011, I was promoted to an Administrative Assistant II. I’ve been working as a full-time employee for four and a half years.

Q: What other professional jobs have you held in the past?
A: Prior to working at CPCC, I worked in property management for 20 years as a Property Manager and I supervised the maintenance staff.

Q: What are your areas of expertise?
A: My areas of expertise are in accounting, administrative skills, and networking. Also helping people to become empowered with purpose and to better themselves when society has overlooked them.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job at CPCC?
A: I truly enjoy the opportunity to enhance my skills and talents, through professional development training, department projects and free curriculum courses.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
A: I enjoy family time, music, reading, preforming arts, networking, and community outreach.

Q: What do you want others to know about you?
A: I am a member of the nurse’s ministry at my church, a grandmother, a mentor at CPCC WPG, and a Member of Dress For Success Professional Women’s Group. I’m also a Certified Notary Public and Signing Agent. Finally, I am the Vice President of People Helping People Outreach.

Staff Spotlight: Tashana Kirby-Williams, Disability Counselor

Tashana with her daughter, Rylee

Tashana is our new full time Disability Counselor. She comes to CPCC with a well rounded background in counseling and working with adults and students with disabilities. She also brings a bubbly personality to our team and fits in well with us already! Here is Tashana’s Q&A so you can get to know her more!

Q: How long have you worked at CPCC?
A: I have been with CPCC for about a month.

Q: What other professional jobs have you held in the past?
A: My first professional job was with Beyond Academics at UNCG. My second professional job was with Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job at CPCC?
A: I love the opportunity for professional growth. I also love the fact that everyone is a big family.   I am always ready to come to work and be around such an amazing team!

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
A: I love to shop, eat, travel and play with my daughter Rylee J.

Q: What do you want others to know about you?
A: I am a fun person with a big personality and I am happy to be with Central Piedmont Community College.

Staff Spotlight: Mina Gerges, Lab Facilitator in the Disability Services Testing Center

Mina Gerges, Lab Facilitator

Mina is one of our newer team members in Disability Services. His background in technology is an asset to our department. Here is some Q&A to help you get to know Mina better!

Q: Who are you?
A: My name is Mina Gerges. I was born in Canterbury England, where I lived for four years. Then I went to Egypt and I spent about thirteen years there until I finished my high school diploma with a major in mathematics. I studied at Hudson County and then I studied electrical engineering technology at UNCC. Now I’m an Instructional Lab Facilitator at CPCC

Q: How long have you worked at CPCC?
A: This is my first time working at CPCC and I started one month ago.

Q: What other professional jobs have you held in the past?
A: I worked as a Process Engineer at Electronics Manufacturing. I provided quality support for production assembly and testing, documented assembly process for the manufacturing floor, and documented test procedures for test engineering. I also tested assemblies using manual, semi-automatic, and automatic test equipment. I enforced strong adherence to documented processes and lead problem resolution. I also worked as a math teacher at CMS where I taught mathematics for grades 9-12. I did my internship with CMC where I repaired desktops and laptops. Finally, I worked as a IT Assistant and I maintained and repaired PCs and Mac Computer hardware/ software.

Q: What is your area of expertise?
A: I have Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology from UNCC

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job at CPCC?
A: I enjoy working with people. I’m gaining new experience and knowledge about working with disabled students and how to be more social with people.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
A: I play basketball, tennis and bowling. I enjoy writing Christian stories and reading poems. I also have a talent in teaching mathematics.

Q: What do you want others to know about you?
A: I want others to know who I am and how I achieved my goal to become a team member of Disability Services at CPCC.

Staff Spotlight: Gavora Jones Senior Administrative Clerk in Disability Services

Gavora Jones is a vital member of the Disability Services team. She is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that students receive the best services from our office and from the college as a whole. Being a CPCC student herself, she knows how to navigate the college and is willing to help connect others with resources at the college to help them be successful. She has a big heart and it shows when you meet her! With her experience and personality, she provides high quality services to our students and helps to keep the department running smoothly.

Gavora Jones, PT Senior Administrative Clerk

Now it’s time to get to know Gavora…..

Q: How long have you worked at CPCC?

A: I’ve been working at CPCC for 4 years.

Q: What other professional jobs have you held in the past?

A: I worked as a work-study student with TRiO and Financial Aid, which helped shape me for my professional future.

Q: What are your areas of expertise?

A: Because of my experiences in life over the years I believe it makes it easy for me to make others smile. I have a way with people.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job at CPCC?

A: I truly enjoy meeting new people and learning more about the world around me. I find it true that you’re never too old to learn.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

A: I enjoy shopping, music, reading, and spending time with my family. And maybe cooking every now and then.

Q: What do you want others to know about you?

A: I enjoy making gift baskets and taking pictures for fun. For me making others smile gives me a warm feeling on the inside. Most of all traveling to visit my dad and going to flea markets on the weekends.

Technology Spotlight: Free and Cheap Assistive Technology!

Laptop, books, and phone

Laptop, books, and phone

Here are some suggestions from Disability Services for free and cheap assistive technology!

Notes Plus (App)
By: Viet Tran

  • Most Noteworthy Function: Note taking services
  • Estimated Value: $10.00
  • Available from ITunes
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPad.
  • Selected as Top 100 World’s Greatest Apps 2014 – Business Insider’s App 100 (
  • Watch the demonstration
  • View the app

Notability (App)
By: Ginger Labs

  • Most Noteworthy Function: Note taking services
  • Estimated Value: $5.99
  • Available from ITunes
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.
  • Apple Editors’ Choice on iPad, iPhone, and Mac! Apple’s Mac App of The Year!
  • See the demonstration of 4.1
  • View the app

Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop – Personal
By: Splashtop Inc.

  • Most Noteworthy Function: Access your laptop from anywhere. (Great for online students).
  • Estimated Value: $4.99
  • Available from ITunes and GooglePlay
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPad.
  • See the demonstration
  • View the app

Read&Write for iPad
By Texthelp Ltd.

  • Most Noteworthy Function: Read Aloud software
  • *Note: Also available in different versions for non-apple users. See the seller’s channel below.
  • Estimated Value: Free
  • Available from ITunes
  • Compatibility: Requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPad.
  • Boost confidence and attainment for students with dyslexia or English language learners who struggle with reading and writing.
  • Seller’s channel on YouTube
  • View the app



Technology Spotlight: Affordable GPS device for your shoes!

Written by Kayla Earley

Have you ever wanted to use the GPS on your phone for walking directions but were afraid that you could not read the street signs and know where to turn? Lucky for you, someone else already has a design for that.

Lechal ( is getting ready to put their haptic technology shoes on the market. Lechal footwear comes in shoes and insoles that connect to the walking directions on your phone. When it’s time for you to take a right turn, your right foot will vibrate. No need to read street signs or ask for directions! You can preorder your pair today ( And the great thing is, the company is trying to keep this footwear as affordable as possible, ranging from $60-$90!

Staff Spotlight: Lindsey McDonald, Senior Intrepreter

Introduction written by Laurie Jachym

This week’s staff spotlight is on Lindsey McDonald. Lindsey is a Senior Interpreter for Interpreting Services at CPCC. She works with students in all areas of the college to provide Interpreting Services. Most days she is out traveling across the campuses to work with students, but we enjoy the times when Lindsey is in Disability Services. She has a fun-loving personality and adventurous spirit that she brings to the office. Here’s a Q&A with Lindsey to get to know her better!

Lindsey in NYC

Q: How long have you worked at CPCC?
A: I have worked part-time at CPCC since the Fall of 2006, but have been full-time since Fall 2010.

Q: What other professional jobs have you held in the past?
A: I have been an interpreter for the deaf since I graduated college.  The first three years after graduation I worked full time at a middle school and was the staff interpreter for one student.  Before that, I worked several retail jobs.

Q: What is your area/what are your areas of expertise?
A: My area of expertise is English and Reading classes. I am a stickler for grammar so I am often being asked to help make flyers, check emails, etc. I also enjoy working with newer interpreters, including the co-op students in the Interpreter Education program to help build their skills and confidence levels.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job at CPCC?
A: I enjoy the teamwork between the other interpreters and learning a little bit about a lot in the variety of classes we have.

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
A: I enjoy going to the mountains as often as possible, camping with family and friends, and playing ball with my crazy dog.

Q: What do you want others to know about you?
A: I can be quiet at times, but I love getting out, traveling and meeting new people!