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Diversity and Inclusion

Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program expands to Southwestern Community College

Partnership will increase the number of low- and moderate-income students transferring to and graduating from Carolina

The Old Well
The Old Well

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) and Southwestern Community College (SCC) in Sylva are partnering to increase the number of students transferring to and graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill.

SCC will be the 11th community college to partner with C-STEP and Carolina.

Through C-STEP, low- and moderate-income high school and community college students who enroll in one of the program’s partner colleges are guaranteed admission to Carolina if they are first admitted to and successfully complete the community college portion of the program with at least a 3.2 GPA.

“Every day we have the chance to see our students grow and challenge themselves as they build successful lives,” said Dr. Don Thomas, Southwestern Community College president. “The launch of C-STEP at Southwestern Community College will create even more opportunities for our students, their families and our community.”

Now in its 12th year, C-STEP was launched with the support of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in an effort to enable more community college students to transfer to and graduate from Carolina. Almost 800 transfer students enter UNC-Chapel Hill each year, about 33 percent from North Carolina community colleges.

“North Carolina community college transfer students are an amazing group of scholars,” said Rebecca Egbert, C-STEP program director. “Working with Southwestern Community College students as they prepare to come to Carolina and once they’ve arrived in Chapel Hill will be a privilege. These students enrich our campus with their experience, diligence and intelligence.”

Students who participate in C-STEP agree to earn an appropriate associate degree at their partner community college and participate actively in the program, which offers students special events, advising and transition and support services both at their home college and at

Carolina. The program also provides transition and support services once students have enrolled at Carolina and are pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

The communities surrounding SCC include the Qualla Boundary, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Members of ECBI participate in many SCC programs and have partnered with SCC and Western Carolina University to develop the Oconaluftee Institute of Cultural Arts on the Qualla Boundary, where students come to study and preserve the artistic traditions of the ECBI community.

“Education is a priority for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and generations of tribal leaders have worked toward that goal,” said Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “By collaborating with C-STEP and Southwestern Community College, our students will benefit for years to come.”

C-STEP currently serves almost 845 students; 652 of those have already enrolled at Carolina and 482 have graduated. The remaining students are expected to enroll after completing their community college courses. As of 2018, the average C-STEP graduate GPA is 3.0 and the overall graduation rate is 81 percent.

Current C-STEP partners include: Alamance Community College, Cape Fear Community College, Carteret Community College, Central Carolina Community College, Craven Community College, Durham Technical Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Robeson Community College, Sandhills Community College and Wake Technical Community College.