“I found out about C-STEP against all odds,” said Tyler Balderson, a former Cape Fear Community College student who now attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
C-STEP, also known as the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, is a program that mentors students through an associate degree program and onto a baccalaureate degree program as a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Balderson discovered C-STEP three days short of the deadline during his final semester of high school. With his SAT/ACT scores, he didn’t think he stood a chance of getting in. Despite his doubt, he decided to apply. A few months later, Balderson received an envelope from UNC-Chapel Hill in the mail. “Half expecting it to be a rejection letter, I ripped it open, tearing the envelope and the acceptance letter in two. I had been accepted!”
Balderson’s admittance to the program shifted his mindset — he felt like he belonged and like he was working toward a goal. “I worked 30-70-hour weeks while I was a student and because of my relationships with the students, staff, and faculty, I felt both supported and confident.”
“Not only has C-STEP given me peace of mind knowing that I will transfer on to UNC-Chapel Hill, but it has given me a community of people to lean on and friends that are like family,” Balderson noted. C-STEP affected Balderson in such a positive way that he wanted to give back. In his second year of the program, he dedicated his time to helping others who felt “alone or incompetent with no way out of it.” He reached out to new members, welcomed them, and made them feel at home in what he calls the “C-STEP family.”
“If you’re thinking about applying, stop thinking and apply!” said Balderson. “Don’t let the past or present define your future. If you want anything to happen for you in the future, you have to make it happen for yourself.”
Tyler Balderson is now in his third year of college at UNC-Chapel Hill with hopes to continue his C-STEP journey as a board member on the C-STEP Student Leadership Committee.