RCC: ‘We have something for everyone’

Aspiring college students learn what RCC has to offer

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery

HAMLET — The message was clear and constant: If a student is ready to enter college, there are things he or she can do now, regardless of age, to prepare.

If J’Viz Wall wasn’t thinking about the next step in her educational career before Tuesday night, she is now. The 15-year-old sophomore at Richmond Senior High School won a $1,000 scholarship at Richmond Community College’s Open House. The drawing capped a two-hour program in which students of all ages were introduced to the many programs the local community college has to offer.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Other top drawing winners included Olivia Bateman, who had the right number for a $500 scholarship and Kelsie Thames, who took home an iPad.

After registering, aspiring students were ushered into a classroom for a brief welcome from Terry Thompson. Thompson is the continuing education department coordinator at RCC and works in Work Force Development.

“We’re a little different from … the main campus,” Thompson said of his department array of programs, from jewelry making to cake decorating. “We have something for everyone.”

The statement was specific to Thompson’s domain on the Hamlet campus, but the concept behind Tuesday’s Open House was the same general message: Come take a look at how you and RCC can get along.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Khyana Bennett, 19, of Laurinburg, is an aspiring nurse and checks out a mannequin that can deliver a baby - simulated, of course. The simulator is one of many high-dollar investments made by RCC's nursing faculty.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Khyana Bennett, 19, of Laurinburg, is an aspiring nurse and checks out a mannequin that can deliver a baby – simulated, of course. The simulator is one of many high-dollar investments made by RCC’s nursing faculty.

“Most people,” said Wylie Bell, assistant director of marketing and communications, “don’t know what we have.”

The point of Tuesday was to answer those unasked questions.

Thompson, for one, acknowledged a nursing career wasn’t for him.

“I’m afraid of blood,” he admitted.

But nursing is exactly what Khyana Bennett had in mind. The 19-year-old Laurinburg resident is ready for college after taking year off since her Scotland High School graduation ceremony.

“I left her take a year off,” said her mother, Pamela Bennett.

Bennett said her daughter has been working since graduation. She’s also had some free time. Now, though, “she’s ready,” Bennett said.

Nursing faculty, including nursing program supervisor Carole Gibson and Brenda Huffman, CNA instructor, teamed up with first- and second-year nursing students to help the newcomers along through a carefully crafted tour. Anytime a student gets a chance to say anything, of course, an instructor really never knows what might happen. But at RCC, a qualified instructor is never far away to set the record straight.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Cameron Kelly, a nursing student at Richmond Community College, speaks during Tuesday's Open House about the program's strict grade requirements.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Cameron Kelly, a nursing student at Richmond Community College, speaks during Tuesday’s Open House about the program’s strict grade requirements.

Nursing student Cameron Kelly talked about the program’s strict requirements. One student, he said, was one-tenth of a point off a minimum grade of 78.

“They dropped her,” Kelly said. “They don’t care. It’s not that bad as long as you study. She won’t give it to you.”

Well, Kelly had it close. Yes, the student was dropped but that wasn’t because Gibson wasn’t willing to bend. The minimum grade is a state requirement, she said.

“If you’re getting ready to graduate, you need to know what to do right now,” Gibson said.

To be sure, some nursing students don’t make the cut. But the washout rate in some other programs at RCC can be higher — much higher.

Amir Niczad, chair of the school’s engineering division, said that 50 percent or more of first-year students end up dropping, or being dropped, from his program. It’s not easy work, but a large number of RCC’s students who major in computer electronics engineering or mechanical engineering technologies have a big payoff. Niczad said the job market is ripe, and will be, for the next 20-plus years.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Three-dimensional computer-aid design and printing are playing key roles in the evolution of manufacturing.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Three-dimensional computer-aid design and printing are playing key roles in the evolution of manufacturing.

Niczad’s teaching model is based on a simple observation.

“You’re going to have robots doing everything, everywhere,” he said between groups of visitors.

Which makes RCC graduates, who have been trained on state-of-the-art equipment, in high demand.

“They’re calling us from everywhere,” Niczad said of businesses as far away as California. “They want our graduates. Unfortunately, we’re not producing that many.”

Niczad then points this equipment and that — machines far beyond the grasp of a humble reporter — and shakes his head in wonder.

“Whoever trains with these are considered a super engineer,” he said.

And those super engineers can earn upwards of $60 an hour.

“This is not a dead-end degree.”

Filed in: Business, Education, Featured News, Hamlet, Health, Latest Headlines, News

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  • Taylor Wall

    I should be graduating next May with a degree in both Computer and Electronics Engineering. RCC has made that possible for me with ease. The engineering programs are amazing at the college and I would hope that more young students choose a scientific path.

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