Students C-STEP to success

Import-export entrepreneur, lawyer, high school adviser.

C-STEP offers community college students a chance to attend Carolina on the way to achieving their dreams.

LaChaun Anderson is closer to her dream of starting her own import-export company. Stuart West is in his second year at the UNC School of Law. Brian Woodard encourages high school students to consider college as a member of the Carolina College Advising Corps.

These success stories all originated in hard work and Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP). C-STEP promises talented community college students from low- to moderate-income backgrounds admission to UNC if they first earn a degree from Alamance, Durham Technical or Wake Technical Community College. The students receive advising, academic and social support before and after the transfer to Carolina.

Anderson juggled jobs as a sushi server, cocktail waitress and clothing store assistant manager while at Wake Tech. “I needed direction,” she says. “C-STEP helped me target my education at Wake Tech so that I could reach the next level – attending and earning a degree from UNC.” She majored in international studies and attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a Phillips Ambassador scholarship. Anderson works with an aerospace company, creating markets internationally.

West also transferred to Carolina from Wake Tech. “The earliest benefit of the program was that it made the process of applying to Carolina much easier,” West says. “The program’s advising was very helpful; it was one-on-one. They helped me figure out which credits transferred and which classes to choose that would apply to my major.”

With one of the highest GPAs of the 2009 C-STEP class, West is interested in environmental law, criminal justice and public policy.

A university education seemed out of reach for Woodard, who struggled with a learning disability. When he first enrolled at Alamance Community College, he thought he would become a carpenter. Then he found the C-STEP program and a passion for history. After transferring to Carolina, he graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in history and a job with the Carolina Advising Corps helping teenagers in Rockingham County navigate their way to college.

“I believe this program is vital to improving access to higher education for underserved communities,” Woodard says.

Anderson hopes that the accomplishments of C-STEP transfers will give hope to others with more ambition than resources who dream of going to college. “Success is available to anyone regardless of circumstance,” Anderson said. “These are the words that I want to tell my children one day.”

Funding for C-STEP originally came from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Published August 20, 2010.