Alumni News

alumni News - Where They Are Now

Accolades for our alumni

Sarah HendricksPastry1Pastry2Pastry3
Sarah Hendricks, who graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2023, secured her dream job as a part of the culinary team at The Katherine, an upscale French restaurant located in Winston Salem, NC.  She will work under the executive chef and sous chefs to learn all aspects of restaurant operations and advance her skills. Her desire is ultimately to be the restaurant's pastry chef, which is her passion. Prior to graduation, she had the opportunity to work as a pastry chef creating desserts at Shelton Vineyards in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina. She enjoyed working this position as a full-time student from fall of 2022 through June of 2023. This opportunity afforded her creative license to expand and develop offerings for Shelton's on-site restaurant, Harvest Grill, and for their many private events. Sarah earned the honor of being selected for the second year in a row to be on the pastry team for The Master's Golf tournament in Augusta, GA, in 2022 and 2023. This prestigious opportunity was only available to a select few. Sarah shared that being part of such a big event and meeting new people was exciting and gratifying to be part of a 4-person pastry team in Augusta.
Her creativity as a pastry chef is displayed in not only the fabulous flavors, but also in the artistry of her creations' presentations. "The position that I had at Shelton helped me grow not only professionally but personally as well," shared Sarah, "I am excited to be a part of the culinary team at The Katherine learning from experienced chefs and develop a broad perspective of the entire operation." She loves to travel, spend time with family and friends, bowling and of course, cooking! Sarah received her bachelor's degree in Restaurant/Food Service Management in 2023 and her Associate's Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, also from Johnson & Wales University in 2022. Her goal is to eventually open her own bakery. Her proud mentor while a Scholar was Niki Simmons.
Congratulations Alumnus Teresa Shelton
One of our inaugural scholars chosen in 1995, Teresa Shelton, has retired after 22 years with Novant Health Medical Center. She shared her news with this to say about WINGS. "Without the love, and guidance of my mentor, Mary Bruce and all the other founders of the WING Scholarship program, Jill and Gloria to name a few, I'm positive my life would be different today. I would just like them to know that I achieved yet another milestone as a result of their dream, dedication, kindness, and time!" Bravo to Teresa for soaring into retirement! We applaud you!
Jennifer DiMola Scholarship & Employment with Meck Pre-K Program
Teaching and inspiring young minds is at the very core of what inspires and impassions Scholar Jennifer DiMola. As a recipient of the Meck Pre-K Program Scholarship, WE is also excited to announce that she has also gained employment in the Mecklenburg Pre-K Program, which will begin in August of 2021 after she graduates in May 2021. Her degree from UNC-Charlotte in Child and Family Development with a minor in Children's Literature will certainly be put to valuable use in her new position! Proud mentor, Maggie Norris, is also featured in the article. Jill Flynn also provides commentary regarding Jennifer being an avid attendee of the Scholar Networking and Professional Development events. 
Zuleyma Arreola Ambriz Queens University Student Business Woman of the Year Award

You may have noticed Scholar Zuleyma Arreola Ambriz's smiling face on billboards and advertising throughout the Charlotte metropolitan area. She  was honored by the Queens Business School faculty as one of three female students to be honored with their Student Business Woman of the Year award. Her honor included being featured in their advertising campaign for adult continuing education. Billboards include featuring Zuleyma with proclamations of "I am turning my Associates into a Bachelors" and "Classes work with my schedule, not against it."  Zuleyma's mentor is Laura Lawrence, who is also featured in the article.

catching up with WINGS graduates

Catching Up with Sharon Floyd (2000 Graduate)
Kudos and appreciation to Community Champion Goodwill and their partnership with Indeed Essentials to Work Program, a GII Program that supports jobseekers with essential supports such as computers, WiFi and Lyft rides. 2022 Graduate Sharon Floyd recently received a laptop and Wi-Fi hotspot for one year as she pursues employment opportunities. This program is managed by the GISP Career Center Team and Family Stability Services. A demonstration of partnership and collaboration at its best!! Another example of how our WINGS Scholars benefit long after they graduate thanks to our community of champions and connections.
Scholar April Edwards graduated in 2018 from Johnson C. Smith University with her bachelor's in social work.  After graduation, April left single parenthood behind upon marrying the love of her life to raise her two boys in holy matrimony. As a first generation to earn a degree in her family, April continued her education, earning her Masters in Social Work in 2020.  Within the same year, she received her Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA) designation. She currently works for Hope House Foundation, a transitional living facility for women and their children, as a social worker. She also serves as a therapist with Within U Solutions and an employee relations investigator with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Her mentor was Regina Wharton.

Scholar Mimi Christensen graduated in 2018, Cum Laude, with a bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing. What makes this significant is that shortly after being accepted as a WINGS scholar, she was diagnosed with cancer, and continued as a full-time student amidst multiple surgeries and chemo treatments. Today, with her cancer in remission, she enjoys multiple creative outlets including painting, tailoring her own clothing, composing classical music, and working on the manuscript for her first book, which will share her journey with cancer through the lens of humor and enlightenment, and hopefully helping others with their own journey through cancer.

Scholar Teresa Shelton graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Queens University. She is the proud mother of three adult children and enjoys also being a grandmother. She feels truly blessed, having been a first-generation to earn a degree, being able to travel abroad to many destinations and enjoy numerous hobbies and collections, amidst a rewarding career.  She recently celebrated her 20th anniversary as a Registered Nurse with Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, currently serving as a Stroke Navigator for the Neuroscience department.  Her WINGS mentor was Mary Bruce.

Scholar Shontea Smith graduated in 2008 with a BS in Religious Studies at UNCC and went on to two Masters Degrees from UNCC and Duke Divinity School. Shontea serves as Ministry Coordinator with St. Paul's AME in Chapel Hill as well as Executive Director of United Voices of Efland Cheeks Community Center. Shontea's WINGS Mentor, Cindy Quinlan, has stayed in touch post-graduation and was delighted to share an update. Enjoy this first edition of Where They Are Now written by Cindy Quinlan.

Scholar Fridonna (Doni) Shepard-Steele graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, and minors in Public Health and American Studies. She was selected as a scholar while attending CPCC and ultimately earned her four-year degree at UNCC. She is currently earning her Masters in Social Work from Capella University, where she was recently accepted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society. In addition to serving on Capella's Social Work Leadership Group, she serves on the professional service boards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, and the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board. She is the proud grandmother of first grandchild, born in January of 2021, and is looking forward to beginning her first practicum with the Indian Health Service working with the Navajo Tribe, allowing her to give back and honor her Native American heritage. Her WINGS mentors were Pam West and Frances Queen.