A Graduation Story

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017 more than 500 students were awarded degrees, diplomas or certificates at Cleveland Community College. Among them were three students who earned their Associate in Applied Science in Radiography.

Mary Cartmell, Avery Robinson and Emily Williams all finished the program feeling good about their future.

Avery Robinson, Emily Williams and Mary Cartmell each graduated from CCC with an Associate in Applied Science in Radiography degree.

Avery Robinson, Emily Williams and Mary Cartmell graduated on May 10, 2017 with Associate in Applied Science degrees in Radiography.

“There’s this great feeling of accomplishment,” said Robinson. “From day one until now, it’s a huge accomplishment, but we know the book and we know the hands-on side. This program has done a really good job of preparing us to take the registry exam and to go to work.”

Cartmell added, “Some schools worry about getting you through the program. Cleveland worries about getting you ready to work.”

Admission to the Radiography program at CCC is competitive, and the course work includes clinical rotations to area health care facilities, radiographic procedures, image processing, patient care and management, and more. Students must be dedicated and engaged in order to be successful in the program.

Therefore, part of the admissions process is participation in an “exposure day.” Students applying for the radiography program visit a clinical site to observe and engage with radiography technicians. Once students are accepted into the program, they participate in two more exposure sessions, one during a day shift and one at night. One experience is typically at an outpatient facility, while the other is in a hospital. These students get a taste of what it is like to work in the field before they ever attend a radiography class.

Williams said the exposure days helped her know she was in the right place. “Through the exposure days I found out that X-ray wasn’t what I thought it was, but I realized I still wanted to do it.”

The exposure days played a key role in Robinson’s decision to enroll too. “I attended UNCC for two years, studying engineering. I left in good standing and could go back if I wanted, but I realized engineering wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. After the third exposure day, I could see myself doing this.”

All three students credit the on-campus instructors and the clinical site instructors with their success. “The program is professionally challenging. Teachers here want you to succeed,” said Cartmell. “If you put in the effort, they will as well. They want you to succeed after you leave the program.”

Robinson added, “The clinical site instructors are a huge part of the success. They are there to help, not criticize. They make sure you keep up with technical skills.”

Williams points out that she looked at other schools before choosing CCC’s program. “The more information I found, the more I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I like that this program is more hands-on. I don’t think I would have been as successful at another school.”

As Robinson and Williams prepare to begin their careers right away, Cartmell plans to attend the Carolinas College of Health Sciences radiation therapy program in the fall. “Therapy was always the ultimate goal, and you must have X-ray technician training first,” she said. “I chose radiation therapy because of the patient experience. You see the same patients over and over.”

Cartmell said her grandfather went through radiation therapy and talked to her about his experience with the staff who cared for him. She said at that time he wasn’t aware of her interest in radiation therapy, but his experience reinforced her decision.

Regardless of the direction they plan to take, each of these graduates feels prepared and ready for the next phase of their lives. The program helped them grow in knowledge and job skills, but also as individuals. “I was scared to talk to patients when I first started,” said Robinson. “Now, I can do it easily, and changes like that carry over into the rest of my life.”

Cartmell and Williams agree their experiences throughout the program have given them more confidence in and out of the classroom. Williams said that the hands-on experience in the clinical rotations, learning the equipment and interacting with patients, took her from day one to being able to “run a room” and it makes her feel completely prepared. “We know everything now (about being an X-ray technician),” said Williams. “There’s nothing left to learn. I feel completely ready to graduate.”

Congratulations to all our 2017 graduates. We wish you continued success and happiness in your educational journeys, careers, and the adventures life brings.

CCC’s FRED Helps Sheriff’s Office Solve Crimes

Cleveland Community College and the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office are partnering to investigate cybercrimes through the use of the College’s Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED). The purpose of the agreement is for the collaboration and equipment sharing in the area of cyber forensics with the ultimate goals of maintaining a mutually beneficial cyber-forensic lab and ensuring students have opportunities to be exposed to subject matter experts in the field of cyber informatics and security.

The Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device (FRED) was acquired by the College in 2011 for use in the College’s Information Systems Security courses to teach students how to perform data recovery and digital/forensic investigations in a corporate setting. FRED is used as a tool for conducting forensic investigations on a variety of computing electronics, primarily smartphones, personal computers and laptops. Digital forensic investigators can use FRED to search hard drives and flash storage for evidence in criminal investigations. FRED can even recover files that have long been deleted by a suspect.


FRED is a valuable resource for CCC and the Sheriff’s Office.

According to Sheriff Alan Norman the use of FRED at CCC saves Cleveland County both time and money when investigating cybercrimes. “When an individual is charged with child pornography, for example, the alleged criminal’s computer is seized. The Sheriff’s Office must then use a device like FRED to thoroughly scan the computer for evidence. In the past, we have had to go to Charlotte to use such a device and often wait weeks to conduct our investigation. The partnership with CCC allows us to investigate almost immediately.”

In exchange for the use of FRED, the Sheriff’s Office will send an expert in the field to share experiences and information with students in the Information Systems Security program. Steve Putnam, Information Systems Security Discipline Coordinator is pleased with the opportunity for experts to speak to students. “You can only learn so much from a textbook. Students in our courses need the opportunity to get hands-on experience with FRED and learn from those that work in this field.”

“We value partnerships at Cleveland Community College. This is the perfect example of a partnership that allows the College to provide excellent opportunities for our students while saving money and bringing criminals to justice. What could be better?” contends Dr. L. Steve Thornburg, CCC President.

CCC offers the Associate in Applied Science degree in Information Technology – Systems Security, the diploma in Systems Security, and Certificates in Systems Security, Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures, and a variety of other computer-related degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

Exploring Careers: Medical Assisting

What is Medical Assisting? It’s not a new profession, but it’s a term that I for one was unfamiliar with until a couple years ago. The more I learn about this profession, the more interesting I find it to be.

Medical Assistants are sort of jack-of-all-trades health professionals. They are trained in both clinical and administrative duties to work beside and provide support to physicians and other medical providers. You will often find Medical Assistants working in doctor’s offices and outpatient clinics.

Of course actual duties vary depending on the particular office, but Medical Assistants can help physicians with patient exams (They can handle the computer so your doctor can talk to you without playing peek-a-boo from behind a screen.), obtain patients’ medical histories, perform basic lab tests, provide wound care and more. In addition to clinical duties, Medical Assistants are trained to code and file insurance claims, update patient records, schedule appointments, handle billing and book keeping tasks, arrange for hospital admissions or lab tests, and more.

Basically, Medical Assistants are multi-skilled health professionals who play a huge role in caring for patients and keeping an office running smoothly.

Anyone who likes variety in their routine would probably like this profession. But they also need to have critical-thinking skills, organizational skills and be efficient and able to multi-task well. The median yearly salary in 2015 was about $30,500 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of jobs available is expected to increase by about 23% through 2024 (the average growth rate for all jobs is 7%).

For more information on the Medical Assisting program at CCC, contact Colette Hill at hillb@Clevelandcc.edu.

Want to know more about what profession might be a good fit for you? The 2015 North Carolina Career Clusters Guide, presented by NC Community Colleges and the NC Department of Public Instruction, contains information to help people choose a career pathway.