Celebration features inspiring stories about building futures

RALEIGH, NC (March 3, 2022) – More than 550 local business leaders and influencers gathered at the Raleigh Convention Center on Tuesday for “Wake Tech IGNITE” – an annual event to showcase the college and its mission to transform lives. . Video Highlights.

Hosted by the Wake Tech Foundation, the theme for this year’s event was “Designing and Building a FUTURE”, highlighting the role Wake Tech plays in building the future of our community. The event included impact testimonials from graduates, local leaders and community partners.

Oriental Wake 4.0
Knightdale Mayor Jessica Day and Wendell Mayor Virginia Gray shared their excitement for Eastern Wake 4.0, Wake Tech’s new upcoming campus in eastern Wake County. The mayors explained how the new location brings vital education, like biopharmaceutical training, college transfer programs, public safety and drone training, right into their backyards, which strengthens their communities. “We look at everything that is needed to build a strong community – housing, transportation, economic development, but most important to us is workforce development and education and that is exactly what this campus brings,” said Mayor Day.

STEM University Research and Training Program (START)
Amilcar Rodriguez’s journey has not always been easy. After struggling with the demands of family and work, Amilcar shared how Wake Tech’s START undergraduate research program provided him with the encouragement and inspiration to pursue a career in STEM at a time when the life prevented him from continuing his studies. Amilcar says he knew he was smart enough to excel in a STEM career, but the program’s support allowed him to prove it. He went to NC State, where he graduated with honors and is now part of a hand-picked group of interdisciplinary scholars at the College of Veterinary Medicine. The college recently received a National Science Foundation grant of nearly $1.4 million to improve undergraduate research opportunities for START students.

Wake invests in women
Hilda Pinnix-Raglad, Co-Chair of the Wake Invests in Women Steering Committee and former Chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, presented on the Gender Inequality Initiative launched by Wake Tech and the Wake County Commissioners. Pinnix-Ragland shared that only six percent of Black and Hispanic women are currently working in STEM careers in Wake County. “Women need to have a place at the table in the workplace, a real place, and that means the power to influence through position and the salary that goes with it. Sarah Mason, a 2021 graduate of Wake Tech’s Network Management program and Technical Consulting Engineer at Cisco, shared how she now has her dream job in STEM. After various obstacles kept her from continuing in college and doing the same unsatisfying job for 17 years, Sarah finally returned to Wake Tech and found her passion. “I am excited about Wake Invests in Women as it will give other women like me, regardless of age or background, the opportunity to learn and work with other women.”

Leslie Isenhour, head of Wake Tech’s biotechnology department and director of the BioNetwork Capstone Center, and Joe Owen, senior director of human resources at Lilly RTP, highlighted how the college and pharmaceutical giant Lilly have formed an educational and industry partnership and are working together to build the future of life sciences in our community. With a new training space for biological manufacturing and life science companies on the college’s RTP campus, companies like Lilly can train their future workforce. They are also planning an upcoming announcement on March 17 of a new regional workforce development solution – a partnership between Wake Tech, Durham Tech and Lilly – to provide comprehensive training for the pharmaceutical giant.

Beltline Education Center
Monica Gemperlein, Associate Vice President of Continuing Workforce Education, shared the impact of vital programs like WakeWorks® Apprenticeship, the college’s collaboration with Amazon, academic and career training for students with development, high school equivalency program, and English as a Second Language (ESL). Jorge Goti’s educational journey began at Wake Tech as a student in the ESL program where he met many instructors and classmates who became good friends, helping him find employment and housing. Since then, Jorge, President and CEO of MG Capital Maintenance, has built a successful cleaning business that now employs 600 people! “College was the foundation of my business and personal growth. I continue to be shaped by the lessons learned. I was given a chance, and that, combined with hard work and responsibility, always produces a great result.

Wake Tech IGNITE is focused on strengthening community relationships and developing new partnerships. The Wake Tech Foundation cultivates and manages a variety of resources critical to the college’s success: corporate investments, private grants, alumni and employee contributions, and financial and in-kind support from many other friends of the college. These resources fund a variety of projects, ranging from scholarships to broader educational and institutional needs.

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