Honors & Awards
Student leaders and college administrators assembled for the dedication of the CCCC Cat Walk. Student Ambassadors are Megan Blair, Cris Contreras, Christian George, Chriss Harvin, Landis Johnson, Aaron Kovasckitz, Lacey Kuenzler, Rolander Mayo, David Pope III, and Sarah Shannon-Mohamed.
Central Carolina Community College (N.C.) administrative and student leaders assembled for the dedication of the new CCCC Cat Walk. The Cat Walk is a one-mile walking trail throughout the CCCC Lee County Campus. Each summer, the CCCC Student Ambassadors participate in a leadership development and team building class. The 2015- 2016 Ambassadors wanted their project to benefit the entire campus community, and decided that this year’s project would be to design, implement, and maintain a walking trail at the Lee Campus. Students who participate in physical education classes will be able to utilize the trail as well. The trail is a little less than a mile, and is marked by signs with the Cat Walk insignia on them that identify the quarter- mile and three-quarter mile marks, trail direction, and start/end points. Each sign has a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone, which shows a map of the trail.
Guilford Technical Community College (N.C.) believed in Sharon Parks when she didn’t believe in herself. “You grow up thinking that your voice does not matter,” said Parks, 46. “I didn’t think I could be anything.” Feelings of worthlessness made her unsuccessful in the public school system. So in an effort to find something that worked, she enrolled in the Adult High School program at GTCC to earn her high school diploma. A single mom to a two-year-old boy, Parks was unsure of her future and unaware of her potential. GTCC became her silver lining. Parks’ journey at GTCC spans 30 years. Throughout her life, she has consistently returned to GTCC to improve herself. Whether it was taking a class on parenting or grant writing, or earning a certification to enhance her job performance, GTCC was always there, like an old friend, she said. Today, she’s pursuing an associate in arts degree at GTCC, with the intention of transferring to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work, and eventually a master’s degree. Her dream is to help people navigate the same hurdles she’s encountered throughout her life. One of those hurdles is what brought her back to GTCC two years ago. In 2009, Parks was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie- Tooth (CMT), a rare inherited disorder that damages the nerves. The progression of the disease worsens with age and can cause weakness, numbness and pain, leading to disability. By 2013, Parks had three back surgeries and had to leave her job as an activity coordinator, which had been adding stress to her body. She saw her diagnosis as a calling to follow her dreams and enrolled in GTCC in spring 2014. In the past seven years, Parks received her diagnosis, went through a divorce, and became a caregiver to her mother, who suffered a stroke. These three major life events redefined her, she said. Being a full-time student, while dealing with a debilitating condition, has not been easy for Parks.
She experiences pain on a daily basis. There are good days and bad. Still, Parks remains positive and continues to excel academically. This month, she received the 2016 Academic Excellence Award, one of the highest honors in the North Carolina Community College System, given annually to one student from each of the 58 community colleges. Her biggest inspiration to finish high school, she said, was her first-born son.