CFCC LPN Program Ranked #1 in North Carolina

CFCC PN StudentsWilmington, North Carolina – The Cape Fear Community College Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program, for the second consecutive year, has been named best in North Carolina.

In a recent study conducted by Practical, the CFCC LPN program ranked first among 36 other LPN programs offered by community colleges, technical centers, and private career schools in the state. The scores and rankings for each school were determined based on a historical analysis of National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) exam pass rates and test scores.

“It is an honor for the College to receive this recognition and I am extremely proud of our Health Sciences faculty and staff,” said President, Jim Morton. “This is a well-deserved acknowledgment of their efforts and their commitment to making our healthcare programs the best in the state.”

“The success of this program is shared by all of the faculty and staff who dedicate their time and expertise to support the students and the program,” said Dean of Health Sciences Dr. Angela Ballentine. “CFCC provides exceptional healthcare programs that are making a vital contribution to healthcare delivery in our community and throughout the state.”

“Our students are diligent, hardworking, and tenacious in their endeavor to become LPNs,” said Practical Nursing Program Director Carolyn McCormick. “They are representing our college in a positive way with each clinical rotation. The program faculty has tremendous experience as nurses in their practice areas with nearly 100 years of combined nursing experience. Additionally, we are fortunate to have the outstanding technology in our learning labs and simulated hospital which augments the student experience and creates realistic teaching and clinical scenarios upon which our students can learn.”

The CFCC Practical Nursing program prepares individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide nursing care to clients and groups of clients throughout the lifespan in a variety of settings. Graduates are eligible to apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination, which is required for practice as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Employment opportunities include healthcare settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, physician’s offices, industry, and community health agencies.

For more information about Cape Fear Community College’s LPN program, please visit .

From CFCC to Chapel Hill: A C-STEP Student Story

Tyler Balderson

“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.

A Student’s Take: Marine Technology at CFCC

Marine technology student

My name is Michelle Wiegert and I’m a marine technology student at Cape Fear Community College. My journey at CFCC began as a means to fulfill graduate school prerequisite requirements. I decided it would be less expensive and offer more flexibility if I took math and physics — the classes I would need to begin my graduate studies in marine science — at the community college.

I was so pleased with my first class at CFCC — an advanced trigonometry class — that I decided to see what else the college had to offer. I discovered the associate of applied science in marine technology program and quickly learned it would afford me the tangible skills I was lacking from my bachelor’s degree.

After weighing the pros and cons (most of which dealt with financial burden and career opportunities that would offset those costs) I set up a meeting with the department chair of the marine technology program. I registered for the program that same day. Needless to say, it was an easy sell.

While at CFCC, I have learned new skills that include, but are in no way limited to marlin spike seamanship (splicing, knot tying, and net mending); how to change the spark plugs and the oil in an outboard engine; how to drive, dock, and trailer a boat; a working knowledge of important computer software programs like GIS and AutoCAD and other programs unique to marine careers such as Hypack; how to identify roughly 400 southeastern U.S. marine species; and how to use a variety of instrumentation deployed off a ship and into the ocean.

There is one skill I have learned that ties each of these together: how to live on a ship. Moreover, I know how to live on a ship for numerous days at a time while employing the aforementioned skills. In the marine technology program, we are fortunate to have a moving classroom, the R/V Cape Hatteras.

Every semester, the students take the ship into the open ocean, deploying their classroom-learned tactics and techniques, while living on a moving vessel. Let me tell you, the ocean is kinder and gentler on some days than on others, and during these times, a person learns how to live with other people in close quarters.

The support system at CFCC has inspired me to take part in other marine-technology related opportunities. I became a board member of the Marine Technology Club, which allowed me to lead events of particular importance to me like once-a-month beach clean-ups with other CFCC students and their friends.

These clean-ups are our way of giving back to the community. We have found ways to not only clean the beaches but to enter data of trash we find into worldwide databases with programs such as Rosalia Project and Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell.

We are also involved with the worldwide drifter program registered with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The marine technology program has partnered with the boat building and manufacturing program to build miniature sailboats that we then deploy on our cruises. Monitoring the movement of the sailboats has enabled us to determine the status of currents and winds.

Not only has the program met my academic needs and provided me the tangible skills I need at an affordable price, but it has allowed me to pursue my passions with the utmost support and care from both faculty and classmates.

“I knew I wanted a career change.”

“I knew I wanted a career change,” said Laura Leigh Bransford, recent Cape Fear Community College First Responder Academy graduate and newly-hired firefighter at the Wilmington Fire Department. “And I knew I always wanted to help people.”

Bransford, a military wife and mother of a seven-year-old boy, was focused on her husband’s military career. After moving from Wilmington to Austin, Texas and back again, Bransford stayed at home with her little boy and worked as a part-time assistant and event coordinator for Poplar Grove Plantation. With growing passions for athletic training, teamwork, and helping others, she was naturally drawn to firefighting. “I realized it was never too late go after my dreams,” said Bransford.

In the summer of 2017, Bransford tried out for the Wilmington Fire Department. She did not make the cut, but Bransford persisted: “I knew I was not giving up. Then I found the First Responder Academy at Cape Fear Community College.”

Bransford described her experience with the First Responder Academy, “It was a key point in changing my career. The instructors and the classmates were great mentors and friends. It was a huge growing and learning experience. It was a big family and a great environment for learning. And I really came out of the program a different person…for good.”

Upon her First Responder Academy graduation, Bransford was hired by the Kure Beach Fire Department. Shortly thereafter, she went through the application process with the Wilmington Fire Department. Four hundred applications were taken, with just 24 spots to fill. After a series of written, physical, and oral tests and a panel interview by firefighters of all ranks, the Wilmington Fire Department offered Bransford a position.

Now, Bransford continues to work part time for Kure Beach Fire Department as she goes through her six months of training as a recruit with the Wilmington Fire Department.

Bransford offers advice to parents who have children and a family to support seeking a career change, “Going through school is temporary. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I would often call my friends and ask my parents, who lived two hours away, to help with my son. A support system is essential. Put in the time and I promise you, you will be rewarded.”

And to others dreaming of a career change, “change your negative thoughts into positive thoughts.” Bransford continued, “Put one foot in front of the other. Suck it up and do it; put that hard work in. As you start to accomplish small things, your confidence will build and you will begin to see those small accomplishments grow and grow.”

As a firefighter and mother, Bransford has learned that sweat and hard work are essential to growth. “That’s what you have to do to grow — you have to make sacrifices.”

Wilson Center & Arts Council of Wilmington Announce Initiative Offering Theater Experience to Area Youth

Broadway for a Better WorldThe Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College and the Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County are pleased to announce Broadway for a Better World, a new initiative and community partnership whose mission is to make performing arts accessible to under-served populations.

Particularly focused on providing exposure to the arts for disadvantaged youth, the program is a collaboration between the Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County, the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College, and the Cape Fear Community College Foundation, and will be solely funded through the generous support of private donors.

Non-profit organizations in New Hanover and Pender counties will have the opportunity to apply for a Broadway for a Better World grant, which will provide recipients with free tickets to Wilson Center PNC Broadway or Stars Series performances. All non-profit organizations in New Hanover and Pender Counties are eligible to apply, with the understanding that a majority of the tickets granted will go to organizations serving area youth.

“Broadway for a Better World provides a unique opportunity for children and young adults who don’t have access or exposure to the performing arts,” said Mr. Jack Fuller, former CEO at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and a founding member of the Broadway for a Better World committee. “We believe that experiencing the arts in this way will give kids a broader world view and insight into all the possibilities for their future. Not only will they have exposure to the theater, they will also have the opportunity to be on a college campus and learn about the educational options available to them at Cape Fear Community College,” said Fuller. “We can’t give tickets away, but we can ‘gift’ them away, and through the generosity of this community we can truly help children in need; children that deserve these opportunities.”

Local organizations may apply for a Broadway for a Better World grant beginning Thursday, December 7th, 2017 online at

The Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County will lead an independent grant review committee which will assess the applications and make the grant award decisions on a quarterly basis. The first group of grant recipients will be announced in January 2018.

“This is an exceptional opportunity to not only entertain residents of New Hanover and Pender Counties, but to offer young people in our community the chance to experience the transformative, creative, live theater experience,” said Wilson Center Director, Mr. Shane Fernando. “And that experience will be life-changing.”

Individuals who would like to donate to the Broadway for a Better World program should contact the Cape Fear Community College Foundation at 910-362-7207 or visit

For additional information on the Wilson Center and a full performance schedule, please visit

CFCC Launches Series of International Culinary Classes

Culinary Technology Student

Cape Fear Community College is pleased to announce a new series of continuing education courses for home chefs who want to learn to prepare classic dishes from regions around the world starting January 2018. The Culinary Academy International Series will take students on culinary journeys to France, Italy, Mexico, and a variety of Asian countries. Students will study the culinary traditions of each region and sample the dishes they create with classmates.

The Culinary Academy International Series will consist of four 16-hour culinary classes taught by award-winning chef and CFCC Culinary Technology Instructor Gwen Gulliksen. “I am so excited for us to offer these new international classes!” Gulliksen said of the new series. “Each week will be like a mini culinary vacation for our students. I look forward to sharing recipes from some of my favorite travels with them and teaching them how easy these delicious dishes are to cook.”

The Culinary Academy International Series segments into four class sessions, each four weeks long. The series will begin in January with Regional French Cuisine, continue in February and March with Regional Italian and Regional Mexican Cuisine, and conclude in April with Regional Asian Cuisine.

Students can register for each 16-hour class session separately depending on their interests. Classes will meet on Tuesdays from 10:00 to 2:00 p.m. in the Union Station culinary lab. For additional details, please visit or call CFCC Community Enrichment at 910.362.7199.

CFCC Receives Grant to Provide Assistance for Veterans Pursuing Truck Driver Training

CFCC Truck

Wilmington, NC — Cape Fear Community College announces today that they have received a grant for $97,607 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which will give CFCC the opportunity to award over $50,000 in scholarship assistance for veterans and active duty military seeking a commercial driver’s license (CDL) certificate through CFCC’s Truck Driver Training program.

Grant funds will be used to cover the cost of student fees and/or expenses above the amount that will be covered by veterans and active military educational benefits for qualified students, based on need. In addition, spouses and children of these service members will be eligible to apply for scholarships. “Students can complete the Truck Driver Training certificate program in just ten weeks and a day,” said Dean of Vocational and Technical Education Mark Council. “The demand for licensed CDL drivers continues to grow, and this grant will help area veterans and their families to pursue a high-paying in-demand career immediately after graduation.”

Funds from the grant will also support the hiring of a program-specific Recruiter & Job Placement Specialist, which will actively seek employment opportunities for graduates of CFCC’s Truck Driver Training program and strengthen program-employer relations throughout North Carolina. For graduates who desire to become owner-operators and work as private contract haulers, the recruiter will connect them with CFCC’s Small Business Center for additional assistance.

“With the unemployment rate of North Carolina veterans at 4.5 percent and a great need — now, more than ever — for educated and qualified drivers, I see this as a great opportunity, one that will equip the workforce and mitigate an ongoing unemployment issue for our nation’s heroes,” said Truck Driver Training Program Director Al Gover.

The Truck Driver Training program at CFCC has been training students for over 20 years. The program currently has 11 instructors, over half of which are veterans themselves. “Veterans are not new to Truck Driver Training at CFCC,” said Gover. “Currently, seven of our Truck Driver Training instructors are veterans. It will be great to see them sharing their skills and experience with fellow service members who are pursuing a new adventure.” CFCC also has three CDL examiners on-site, with another being added this month, which offers CFCC students the unique opportunity to take their CDL test on campus before they graduate. “Our students are trained in a variety of trucks, and in diverse road conditions so that they have the best practical experience possible, and they are better prepared for the workforce because of it,” said Vocational and Technical Department Chair Shawn Dixon.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about the Truck Driver Training program and available scholarships should contact the Truck Driver Training Center at 910-362-7320.

Former CFCC Metals student opens jewelry shop at Wrightsville Beach

Heather Talton

“When I know I want something, I work hard,” said owner of The Nicoblue Boutique and former Cape Fear Community College Metals student HeatherTalton.

In 2014, as a senior in high school, Talton started creating ceramic pendants and wrapping sea glass and shells found on the beach with wire to create jewelry. By requests from her friends and family, she started her own little business selling jewelry from her home.

With jewelry making as a hobby, Talton started at CFCC pursuing a career in occupational therapy. She used her electives to take Metals courses which taught the basic principles of metal design and contemporary art forms using brass, copper, and silver with emphasis placed on designing and fabricating jewelry and other objects.

“I pursued occupational therapy with a desire to help people. But my passion was in jewelry-making and CFCC helped me realize that” Talton said. “I am realizing how I can help others through jewelry-making, too. Jewelry isn’t necessarily something someone needs, but it has the power to make people feel something when it’s created with loving, genuine intentions.”

At CFCC Talon learned to create things, that before, she could only think of. Her ideas came to life. This inspired Talon to pursue her career as a Metalsmith. In January 2017, Talton opened The Nicoblue Boutique located at 7202 Wrightsville Avenue, Wilmington, NC, 28403. She now works full time at the shop creating and selling her jewelry. The boutique sells jewelry along with other local goods, some of which include essential oils and crystals, pottery, and bathing suits.

To others shy or afraid to go after what they want, Talton advises, “honor your soul and do what makes you happy. Surround yourself with the things that feed you. Work hard. When you want to do something bold or different, the first thing you need to change is your mindset. If you think ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I won’t profit from this’ then you will never allow yourself to take the first step.”

Former CFCC landscaping student fashions his own business from the ground up

Wilson Stratus

Wilson Stratas is not a typical 20-year-old. He is a business owner, with plans for his future which seem both practical and well-thought-out. He’s a realist, a hard-worker, and a Cape Fear Community College graduate.

Stratas graduated CFCC with a Landscaping and Gardening Certificate in 2017, though he had already started his own business during his senior year of high school.

“I didn’t think I would pursue this career, but I tried it and liked it,” said Stratas. “I like being outside, and I like being my own boss.”

Stratas’ business, Oceanside Landscaping & Maintenance, has a motto: No problems, Just solutions.  It’s a concept Stratas seems to have taken to heart. Starting your own business in high school is rare enough, but honing that business into a successful, growing operation at such a young age is almost unheard of. Stratas has been methodical in his approach. He studies his competition, is careful with his image, and is proactive in his relationships with his clients.

He also values education and chose to come to Cape Fear Community College to learn skills to enhance his operation.

“My favorite class was Turf Management,” says Stratas. “I learned a lot about pest and weed control and what chemicals to use to control them.” Stratas is now preparing to take a licensure exam that will allow him to begin offering lawn pest control as part of his business.

“I want to be a full-service operation,” says Stratas.

Learning skills to enhance his business is not only Stratas’ plan for his current operation but also part of his long-term vision for the business. He knows he will not only need to expand the services he can provide but prepare for the physical toll this type of work can take.

“Long-term, I see myself supervising several crews, and doing some of the lighter work – like insecticide application – myself,” says Stratas.

It’s obvious that Stratas is a planner, constantly working on ways to improve and build upon his already growing business. He advises CFCC students interested in taking a similar path, “Do your research.  Know your competition. See how people are running their businesses. Observe, work, and get involved. Learn from your experiences.”

Stratas explains his future plans with a gleam in his eye. “I want to see how big I can get,” he says. “I like challenging myself.”

He also advises those following in his footsteps to be aware of their image. “Have respect for your own work and process. Your work will advertise for you. If you do good work, it will be noticed. As you grow and expand, you will realize that there are differences between your customers. Treat your customers well and expect the same from your clients, and recognize that your image makes a difference. You can’t show up in a trashy-looking vehicle and expect to get high-end clients.”

Stratas began his business with a lawnmower that had no engine cover that had to be lifted into the back of his vehicle each day. “I’ve come a long way,” he says. “I buy equipment as I can.  It doesn’t have to be brand new, but it’s a long way from where I began.”

To learn more about Landscape Gardening at CFCC, contact Program Director Ken Wells at (910) 612-4447 or at

CFCC Announces Hiring of Dean of Health Sciences

Angela Ballentine

Cape Fear Community College is pleased to announce that Dr. Angela Ballentine has joined its staff as Dean of Health Sciences. Ballentine most recently served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson, NC.

Ballentine is originally from Eden, North Carolina. She attended Greensboro College for her undergraduate degree and later became certified in Radiographic Technology through the Radiologic Technology Department at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.

Ballentine began her career as a radiographer, specializing in mammography. She worked as a mammography specialist in Houston, Texas before beginning her career in higher education at Vance-Granville. While working at Vance-Granville, Ballentine earned both a Master’s of Education degree and a Doctor of Higher Education at North Carolina State University.

“Dr. Ballentine brings a wealth of experience to Cape Fear Community College – both as a healthcare professional and as a community college leader,” said Melissa Singler, CFCC’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Workforce Development. “We feel very fortunate to have her on board, and we look forward to working with Dr. Ballentine as we continue to expand and enhance our highly-demanded health science programs.”

“I am excited and humbled to join the Cape Fear Community College family,” said Ballentine “This is an environment where student success is paramount, and our students are both highly-motivated and service-oriented. The health science disciplines require real teamwork, and I can already see that our faculty and staff truly rally around our students to make sure that everyone is successful.”

Cape Fear Community College’s Health Science programs include Associate Degree Nursing (RN), Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene, Cardiovascular Sonography, Early Childhood Education, Medical Sonography, Nurse Aide, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Pharmacy Technology, Phlebotomy, Practical Nursing (PN), Radiography, and Surgical Technology. For more information about the Health Science programs offered at Cape Fear Community College, visit