C-STEP offers students Anderson and West a chance to achieve their dreams
Five years ago, LaChaun Anderson never
would have considered applying to Harvard
Business School. Now, through opportunities
made possible by the Carolina Student
Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP),
Anderson is on the way to making her
aspiration of owning an international
import-export company a reality. For
Stuart West, hard work and his participation
in C-STEP made it possible for him to
attend UNC School of Law this fall.
Anderson was a student at Wake Technical Community College when she first learned about the C-STEP program. Coming from a background that made attending a four-year college a distant dream, Anderson knew that she would have to work hard to overcome the obstacles of her financial situation and limited education. It was between working three jobs while attending classes at the same time that Anderson realized she would never be able to lead the life she desired unless she took the initiative to change it. “I had the drive, but I needed financial assistance and, more importantly, I needed direction,” Anderson said.
About the program
C-STEP, a program that encourages students from local community colleges to transfer and graduate from Carolina, makes the adjustment from small college to large university more manageable for students. C-STEP promises talented high school students from low-to-moderate income backgrounds eventual admission to UNC if they first earn an appropriate associate degree from Alamance Community College, Durham Technical Community College, or Wake Technical Community College. The program offers participating students advising, special events and social support before and after the transition. Eligible C-STEP students are also given the opportunity for financial aid by enrolling as Carolina Covenant Scholars, a work-study program that guarantees low-income students graduate from UNC debt-free.
Funding for C-STEP, which launched with a four-year pilot program, came from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. UNC was among eight schools to join the foundation in a $27 million partnership aimed at enabling more community college students to earn bachelor’s degrees at America’s most selective colleges and universities.
West, who also transferred to Carolina from Wake Technical Community College, first earned his associate of arts degree before making the transition to UNC. West believes the C-STEP program made his own Carolina experience more personal and the transition to UNC much less difficult.
“The earliest benefit of the program was that it made the process of applying to Carolina much easier,” West said. “The program’s advising was very helpful; it was a one-on-one sort of meeting. They helped me figure out which credits transferred and which classes to choose that would apply to my major.”
Both scholars were given valuable experience and unique opportunities through C-STEP. Anderson participated in the Phillips Ambassador Program, a scholarship designed specifically for students who want to study abroad in Asia, after learning about the application process at a C-STEP-sponsored event. One of 22 scholars accepted, Anderson traveled to China where she attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong and focused her interest to breaking into the Korean market.
With one of the highest GPAs of the 2009 C-STEP class, West is on track to become a practicing lawyer. While he is still deciding what kind of law he wants to practice after completing law school, he says he is interested in environmental law, criminal justice and public policy.
Anderson hopes that their accomplishments will show others that there are many paths of success open to them, regardless of where they started their journey. “Success is available to anyone regardless of circumstance,” said Anderson. “These are the words that I want to tell my children one day.”
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