CPCC Student Receives N.C. Co-op Student of the Year Award

last modified Nov 11, 2011 11:27 AM
CPCC Student Receives N.C. Co-op Student of the Year Award

Melanie Berry

Melanie Berry, a student in Central Piedmont Community College’s (CPCC) associate degree program in Developmental Disabilities, Human Services Technology, received the North Carolina William D. Weston Co-op Student of the Year award at the N.C. Cooperative Education Association (NCCEA) Conference on Nov. 3 in Durham, N.C.

Sponsored by the NCCEA, the award recognizes individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievements and contributions during their cooperative education experience. Berry worked at Lifespan Art Studio, a not-for-profit organization that provides education, employment and enrichment opportunities to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

“Melanie‘s wonderful spirit inspired our artists each day,” said Brittany Higginbotham, former Lifespan Arts Cooperative Education Supervisor. “Her ability to teach others and embrace diversity made our community a better place to learn the world of art. She made a simple classroom arrangement into a moment of fun with her warmth and creativity. As a result, our artists always lit up when she walked into the room.”

During her CPCC Cooperative Education internship with Lifespan, Berry opened herself up to new experiences, stepping into the classroom for the first time as an instructor who was responsible for teaching art classes to persons with disabilities. During her tenure with Lifespan she expanded her horizons, learning more about art techniques, art supplies and how to use the form’s many tools. By taking this creative journey, Berry discovered her inner artist and began leading classes. As her confidence grew, she became the lead art instructor at Lifespan’s studio, developing lesson plans, providing instruction, mentoring resident artists and assisting in the coordination of the studio’s arts shows.

While excelling at Lifespan, Berry continued to pursue her associate degree in Human Services Technology, Developmental Disabilities from CPCC and maintained four part-time and full-time jobs. It’s this dedication and commitment that helped her earn an array of awards, including the First in Families, Inc. Volunteer of the Year Award and the Residential & Support Services, Inc. Support Provider of the Year Award. She is also a three-time recipient of the InReach, Inc. Community Outreach Provider of the Year Award.

“Melanie’s gifts are many,” said Kay Miller, instructor in the CPCC Development Disabilities Program and Health Sciences Division Director “She possesses intelligence, understanding and empathy. She is an excellent student who uses her many talents to contribute to the development of individual creativity for all.”

As the North Carolina William D. Weston Co-op Student of the Year, Berry earned a $100 cash award and CPCC’s Co-Op Program – as the nominating school – received a $100 matching award.

About Cooperative Education at CPCC

Cooperative Education (Co-op) is a partnership between employers and the College to provide students the opportunity to earn academic credit while interning in a position directly related to the student’s program of study. Students benefit by gaining practical work experience, building a career-related work record and increasing their employability. Employers get a unique opportunity to evaluate the student's performance and contribution before making long-term hiring commitments. To learn more, visit http://www.cpcc.edu/cooperative_education.

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering close to 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporate training, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies.