This week marks the end of an extraordinary journey for many CPCC students who are eagerly prepping for graduation and looking forward to the next chapter in their lives – whether it’s taking a much needed break, transferring to a four-year university, or beginning their professional careers. While this is an exciting time, it can also be a bitter sweet experience for some. It’s not always easy to say goodbye, to let go of a life you’ve grown accustomed to for the past few years, and to venture off into unknown territory. But, it can’t compare to the thrilling experience of starting something new (especially if it’s been your dream), gaining more self-knowledge, and expanding your circle of friends.

I wanted to share the following story that I wrote after I graduated from college and reflected on my experience, which included not only great accomplishments but also disappointment and heartache. As I sat contemplating my future, I made the conscious choice to set aside my fears (and everyone else’s expectations of me) and chase after the dreams I held onto for so long. I have never looked back.

Borrow (Nautical): to sail close to the shore

I have been like a ship borrowing – fearful of exploring the open and unpredictable sea. I take comfort in the security of being anchored within a close distance of land. Any movement I make consists of creeping along the shore, ensuring that I do not get lost at sea. The avoidance of risk has provided me with a feeling of discontent as I look at my ship’s log to find no entries worth writing home about.

Occasionally, I examine the structure of my hull. The sides are consumed with barnacles and my anchor is beginning to rust after years of stagnation. Somehow responsibility has crept in, along with unforeseen struggles, which has kept my dreams harbored. I have broken my promise to take back the time that I had borrowed. But as I look to the horizon, I know that there is no better time than now. If I remain in my current position, the powerful waves will force my ship to collide with the headland. I will capsize.

I can feel the trade winds calling me to sea. I have acquired the perfect crew and am ready to set sail, but my compass is unsure of where to lead me. The currents are getting stronger and it is crucial that I leave now; there will never be another opportunity. I know I will encounter storms and unexpected perils; there will be wear and tear on my ship. But, I am willing to take the risk because it is a far better outcome than remaining stationary.

I have pulled up my anchor and am slowly making headway, letting the currents choose my course. I dare not look back to shore for fear that it may entice me back to the familiar. Although I am hesitant to put all my faith in the open sea, I am confident that it will lead me in the direction I am destined to travel. As time has passed on my journey, I no longer feel adrift. I am becoming more seaworthy. The more ports I visit, the more treasures I have worth writing home about.

The message of this story still resonates with me today, especially as I begin a new adventure in Wilmington, NC and prepare to say goodbye to students, colleagues, and dear friends. I don’t know how the next chapter will turn out, but I am grateful for the many blessings that the CPCC community has gifted me over the past five years – in knowledge, skills, friendships, and unconditional love.

For those of you reading this, I want you to know that although you may have some trepidation about the future, it’s important that you continue to chase after your dreams, get out of your comfort zone, seek opportunity and adventure, take (healthy) risks, and never forget that you are worthy of greatness!

CPCC – Thank you for being such an amazing, unforgettable treasure. I will miss you!

Sincerely, Krystal

10 Tips to a Great Start at CPCC

The start of a new school year is always exciting; from meeting new people, beginning new experiences, maybe a few new clothes, backpacks, pens and paper. But, it can also come with great anxiety and stress. For some of you, maybe this is the first time in a (long) while that you’ve been in school. For some, you’ve just finished high school and are now beginning your journey as a college student. Some of you have left your home in another country, and are beginning your studies in a very new place, perhaps with an environment that is very different from what you’re accustomed to. And some of you might be the first in your family to pursue a college education. Whatever your reasons for being a new student at CPCC, all of us (staff, faculty and yes, your fellow students!) want to offer you our congratulations and support! It’s going to be great.

Every new (and not so new) student needs a few words of wisdom for their first week. We promise that if you carry these 10 easy tips with you, you’ll be off to a great start. It’ll be graduation before you know it.

1.      Go to class.

This might seem obvious, but it’s really important. College is like running a marathon, and every class is a mile-marker. You can’t do all the things you need to do as a successful student if you’re not in class and plugged into what’s happening. College classes often have fewer assignments and tests, and the material can be more complex. Being in class is important, not only because your teacher will have an attendance policy, but because if you’re not there you’re limiting your own success.

2.      Get to know your teachers.

Guess what? Community college teachers really like students. For many of them, that’s why they choose to teach here, versus other colleges and universities. I promise you – if you go up to your teacher before class starts, offer them a handshake, a smile, and your name – you’ll be off to a great start. It’s likely that your teacher teaches at least one other class (or as many as five others), so if you can offer up a nice first-impression that can carry you a long way. Letting your teachers know that you’re going to be committed to their class is often an investment in their commitment to you.

3.      Ask for help.

No one likes to admit that they’re not good at something, or that they don’t understand something, or that they aren’t sure they can make it through the end of the semester. However, it happens to every single one of us. Every student that there ever was – at some point in their educational journey – had a tough time in a class or in life outside of school. As tough as it might be, asking for help can come with great relief. But don’t wait until the stress is too much. Ask early on. Before you find yourself inundated with confusion. Before the next exam or assignment is due. Who can you ask? Lots of people. Your teacher. A counselor at the college. The Academic Learning Center. A classmate. A lab instructor. You’ve got lots of options. Use them!

4.      Get to know someone in every class.

You’re going to be sitting next to the same people, every week, for as many as 16 weeks. Some of these people are definitely worth knowing. Why? Maybe you missed a class and need lecture notes. Maybe you aren’t sure of when the next assignment is due. Maybe they made a great score on the last quiz, and you didn’t do so well. Maybe they know a great study spot on campus. College is a great opportunity for you to make new connections and practice networking skills that will be important in your future life after college. Start practicing now!

5.      Get to know your campus.

Some of you will be at a really big campus, with multiple buildings and entrances. Some of you might be at smaller campuses with one way in and out. Either way, every campus has resources and services that will help you be a successful student. Knowing locations of places like the library, counseling and advising, financial aid, the bookstore, vending machines, student activities, security, and computer labs will be helpful for you as you make your way through the semester.

6.      Do more than just go to class.

It might seem like your life is just too busy to fit one more thing in. It might also seem like some things just “aren’t for you.” I’m going to challenge you to consider that the previous two statements are wrong. Think about joining a student organization. Consider attending a special event on campus, like a festival, a special speaker, a service project, or an arts event. Some people think that you can’t have a “real” college experience at a community college, but really, those people don’t know what they’re talking about. There are plenty of opportunities for you to meet other students, gain leadership experience, have fun, and connect with others at the college and in the community. (Oh, and one added benefit? Participating in these things often results in academic success as well.)

7.      Plan ahead.

So, assuming you’re taking me up on these helpful tips, you’re going to be a busy student! Managing classes, assignments, exams, study groups, student events, and your life outside of school is going to be a challenge. If you think it won’t be, you’re wrong. But, you can start planning now. Arrange for your children to be cared for while you’re in class. Begin looking ahead to the next semester. What might you need to take next? When is it time to think about an internship? When can you register for the next semester? When should you begin applying to transfer or for graduation?

8.      Get a calendar. Use it.

So while you’re planning ahead, you need a way to organize these plans! Whether you’re someone who loves using your iPhone calendar app or a regular paper planner, find the method that works best for you. Gather all your syllabi for the entire semester, and jot down assignments, tests, and other important deadlines. (And don’t forget breaks and days off! Those are great to look forward to!) Practicing good time management skills helps you plan and set aside study time and can help you come in to class prepared. These are great skills to take with you into the workforce!

9.      Get to know your advisor.

One important relationship is with your academic, transfer and/or faculty advisor. These individuals can help you talk about your future plans here at CPCC, but can also help you look forward to the next semester, the next college, or your future career plans. They’re also really connected on campus, and can help recommend you to other helpful resources like Career Services, the Academic Learning Center, or other good places.

10.   Have fun.

Overwhelmed yet? Doing something you like to do can also be an important part of being a successful student. Going to college is stressful. And busy. Time consuming. Sleep depriving, even. Make time to do something you enjoy – spending time with family or friends, exercising, going to the movies, cooking, reading, listening to music. Whatever you enjoy, make time to take a break from the books, connect with others, and relax. School/Life balance is a tricky thing, and lots of college students get caught in one or the other. Do your best to enjoy a healthy moderation of both. You deserve it.

Blog Contributor:
Amanda Capobianchi
Associate Dean of Student Life

Celebrating Women, Building Community

While it is important to remember women of the past who have helped shape our history, it is also important to celebrate and support the women of today. In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to introduce a group that is empowering, encouraging, and educating women right here at CPCC.

The Positive Community for Women (PCW) was introduced to CPCC in hopes to bring about a community for women that supports positive communications and relations for women, about women and with women. The mission of PCW is to provide a positive and educational environment where women are empowered and encouraged to improve their lives through education and personal growth. PCW seeks to support and uplift women as a source of awareness of resources and events, a source of support for confidential exchange and mentoring, and a source of advocacy for student endeavors and for dedication to current and on-going issues concerning women.

PCW is hoping to receive support from faculty and students to find a true niche here at CPCC and increase retention for our female students. PCW is open to all CPCC students, faculty, and staff.

PCW is currently holding meetings every other Tuesday from 2pm – 3pm on Central Campus. Please join us at our next meeting on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in the Belk/Health Sciences Building, Room 4510. For more information about PCW, please contact Danielle Dosunmu at (704) 330-6954 or e-mail at danielle.dosunmu@cpcc.edu.

Upcoming Women’s History Month Event: Dr. Ruth Shaw

Past president of CPCC, Dr. Ruth Shaw, will be sharing her life story and inspiring messages. Dr. Shaw will discuss the importance of women’s history month and how women have helped shape the culture at CPCC and influenced the growth within our community. This event is sponsored by Student Life, Library Services, and the American Association for Women in Community Colleges.

Thursday, March 22, 2012
11 am – 12 noon
Central Campus, Overcash, Tate Hall

The event will also be streamed live at the following locations:

Harris: 1120 (H-1) Auditorium
Harper: HP 112
Merancas: CJ Auditorium
Cato: CT – 166
Levine: LV – 1224

Project Life: What’s Your Type?

Upcoming Event: Bone Marrow Donor Drive

For over thirty years, one of the best kept secrets in providing cures for cancer and diseases has been bone marrow donation and transplantation. In 1987, a federal mandate created the National Marrow Donor Program. The program had a simple, audacious goal: connecting volunteer donors with patients whose only chance for a cure was a bone marrow transplant.

CPCC has partnered with Project Life – a national program dedicated to finding and enlisting college students as potential donors for bone marrow and tissue transplants – to educate CPCC students, faculty and staff on the importance of becoming a bone marrow donor. Project Life began more than 20 years ago when a group of students at Davidson College started a grassroots movement to identify potential college students as donors for the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Since then, thousands of individuals have participated, and the program has grown to include 10 other college campuses in North Carolina. CPCC is proud to be included among these higher education institutions and to house the first active Project Life Chapter in the Charlotte metro area. The CPCC Chapter’s first official events are scheduled for this month, when it will host two separate donor drives to recruit at least 300 new donors for the National Bone Marrow Registry.

In preparation for these events, a group of 10 CPCC students have visited area campuses to host information tables and to garner interest in the student body. This dedicated group of individuals is comprised of students from the following health science programs: Cardiovascular Technology, Cytotechnology, Human Services, Medical Assisting, Medical Lab Assisting, and Physical Therapy Assisting. The student leadership team also helped coordinate a successful Lunch & Learn panel to educate the CPCC community about what is means to be a bone marrow donor.  On the days of the donor drives, you will see these same students “typing” donors through a simple swab of the mouth – an easy and painless process that only takes ten minutes. Join these students next week in helping Project Life increase the odds of donor matches and successful donations.

To learn more about the donation process and read answers to other frequently asked questions, please click here. If you are interested in reading stories from donors and survivors, please click here.

Join us in making a difference and saving lives by participating in one of the following donor drives at CPCC:

Tuesday, February 14
Central Campus
Overcash Lobby
9 AM – 2 PM

Thursday, February 16
Levine Campus
2nd Floor Foyer
9 AM – 2 PM

The Path to Success Begins With…

Establishing, developing, and maintaining relationships are important to a student’s success at college. Get to know as many people as possible, especially classmates and professors, by engaging in conversations with others and participating in events on campus. Students should be proactive in building a network of key individuals – family, friends, and CPCC staff – who can help them personally or professionally. The path to success at CPCC begins with getting connected!

Student Resource Day (SRD) is the perfect opportunity to meet staff, learn about valuable services and resources on your campus, enjoy free food and giveaways, and make new friends. Take the initiative to connect with staff as soon as possible to create a foundation of support at CPCC.

Representatives from Student Life, Career Services, Financial Aid, Service Learning, Family Resource Center, Academic Advising and more will be present to talk about their services and answer your questions. Please check the Student Life calendar for more information about your campus SRD and upcoming Student Life events. If you missed your campus SRD or are unable to attend one of the remaining SRD events, we encourage you to visit the College website to learn more about student services.

Student Resource Day Events:

Cato Campus – February 1
Central Campus – January 25
Harper Campus – January 31
Harris Campus – January 18
Levine Campus – February 2
Merancas Campus – January 23