South Piedmont Celebrates Most Recent Graduates of Its Law Enforcement Management Development Program

Photo of Management Development Program participants

South Piedmont Community College celebrated the most recent graduates of its Law Enforcement Management Development Program during a ceremony on Nov. 17.

South Piedmont Community College celebrated the most recent graduates of its Management Development Program during a ceremony on Nov. 17 at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Samarcand Training Academy in Jackson.

The graduates represent law enforcement agencies from across the state.

“Congratulations to all the graduates of this outstanding program,” said South Piedmont President Dr. Maria Pharr.

“The Management Development Program equips participants with the skills and knowledge they need to take the next steps in their careers, effectively manage their teams, and provide deeper levels of service to our communities. We are immensely proud to have played a role in the professional development of this group of Management Development Program participants.”

Graduates included:

Ryan Caldwell, Monroe Police Department

Wes Gardin, Hickory Police Department

Drew Gerringer, Burlington Police Department

Mark Ketchum, Jacksonville Police Department

Dylan Kettell, Fayetteville Police Department

William Laton, North Carolina Wildlife Commission

Zachary Leach, Morehead City Police Department

Brian Leadem, Matthews Police Department

Mark Odom, Emerald Isle Police Department

Tammy Pavey, Western Carolina University Police Department

Franklin Rice, Morehead City Police Department

Bobby Wilder, Garner Police Department

Chris Wingler, Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office

The 11-month Management Development Program is designed for lieutenants, majors, captains, and those wanting to occupy those ranks at small- and mid-sized agencies.

During the program, participants are exposed to topics and issues critical to operating a modern, professional law enforcement organization. Topics include leadership vs. management, incident command, and budgeting. Participants are also required to complete a physical training component and community service.

Participants complete part of the program online. In-person sessions alternate between the North Carolina Forestry Service Mountain Training Facility in Newland and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Samarcand Training Academy in Jackson Springs.   

In addition to their studies and physical training, this year’s participants took a tour of Hendrick Motor Sports, where they had their class photo taken.

“This year’s group was nothing short of outstanding. They developed both as individuals and as a team. I look forward to seeing the great things they go on to do in their careers, and how they continue to learn from one another even after the conclusion of the program. Congratulations to all,” said Mike Smith, a Management Development Program alumnus and director of law enforcement training at South Piedmont.

Learn more about South Piedmont’s law enforcement training programs at https://spcc.edu/areas-of-study/public-safety/law-enforcement-training/law-enforcement/.



South Piedmont Criminal Justice Grad and Monroe Police Officer Is Now Earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Western Carolina

South Piedmont Criminal Justice Technology graduate and Western Carolina University student Justin Crump, second from right, with colleagues from the Monroe Police Department.

Nearly 90 percent of South Piedmont Community College graduates transfer to a four-year university — including Justin Crump, who’s thriving at Western Carolina University.

“South Piedmont definitely prepared me for the university level. South Piedmont had very high expectations, which got me ready for where I am now,” said Crump.

Crump, now an officer with the Monroe Police Department, attended Piedmont High School. During his high school years, his focus was more on athletics than academics.

“I didn’t have a very good work ethic. My GPA wasn’t great. I did just enough to get by and be able to participate in school,” he said.

After he graduated from high school in 2011, Crump became interested in a career in law enforcement. He enrolled at South Piedmont to earn his Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Technology.

“I had a buddy who was working for the Sheriff’s Office, and then I did a ride along with an officer to learn more about the job. It was right up my alley. I like making a difference in my community,” he said.

During his time in the Criminal Justice Technology program, Crump learned about the justice system and developed the self-discipline he needed to be successful in college and his career.

“The quality of classes at South Piedmont is really high, and that equates to high expectations of the students. South Piedmont demanded the best out of me, and that’s making it easier for me to be successful at Western Carolina,” he said.

Crump graduated from South Piedmont in 2014. Five years later, he decided to enroll at Western Carolina to earn his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He is on track to graduate in 2025.

Having a bachelor’s degree will position him to become a lieutenant, a rank that will come with a higher salary that will help him support his wife and young daughter. One day, he hopes to be able to put his daughter, now 3, through college.

Crump sometimes can’t believe how far he’s come since high school, and he’s grateful for the role South Piedmont has played in his progression.

“Community colleges are very cost-efficient. Not everyone can drop a lot of money on a four-year college right out of high school. South Piedmont was an affordable place for me to start, and it gave me a strong foundation that I’m continuing to build on,” he said.

“My high school self wouldn’t believe where I am today. As long as I’m making my family proud, that’s all that matters to me.”

South Piedmont’s annual tuition is 70 percent less than the average annual tuition at a four-year public state university. Its programs are designed for university transfer and immediate workforce opportunities.

Learn more about South Piedmont’s Criminal Justice Technology program.


South Piedmont Associate of Arts in a Year Student Will Graduate Debt-Free, a Year Ahead in Her College Goals

Photo of woman in a field.

South Piedmont Associate of Arts in a Year student Katie Gouvatsos.

A third of the way through South Piedmont Community College’s Associate of Arts in Year program, Katie Gouvatsos is 100 percent sure she made the right decision for her education.

“When I graduate in May, I’ll be a year ahead of my peers. I think it shows that I have a good head on my

shoulders and that I’m determined,” she said.

Gouvatsos, 18, graduated from Indian Land High School in Lancaster, South Carolina, and was offered a sizable scholarship to a private four-year university. However, even with the scholarship, she was still going to be paying $20,000 a year in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree.

Instead of accepting the scholarship, Gouvatsos chose to enroll in South Piedmont’s Associate of Arts in a Year program.

The Associate in a Year program allows students to earn an Associate of Arts degree, which would normally take two years, in just 12 months. For North Carolina residents who qualify, the out-of-pocket cost of the program is capped at $1,500.

While Gouvatsos, who still resides in South Carolina, doesn’t qualify for the cap, South Piedmont Community College was still the clear choice for an affordable college education.

“I work part-time as a receptionist at a yoga studio, and I’m also doing a paid internship with a flower importer. I’m able to pay for my education out of pocket and will graduate without any student loan debt,” she said.

“That was very important to me. I want to be as financially smart as possible.”

Three months into the program, Gouvatsos said the Associate of Arts in a Year is challenging. The curriculum is condensed, and she’s had to learn new time-management skills to stay on top of her assignments.

“But I definitely feel like I’m growing as a student,” she said. “The professors are always there for me when I need help, and they give me suggestions on how to improve my work, which will make me better prepared when I do ultimately transfer to a four-year university.”

The Associate of Arts in a Year classes are offered in person, online, and in a HyFlex format that allows students to choose day-by-day how they attend. Gouvatsos recently had to work late, and while she had planned to attend class in person, she made a last-minute decision to log in to class from her computer.

“I knew I wouldn’t make it in time. That flexibility, being able to go to class in a way that fits my day-to-day schedule, helps a lot,” she said.

Gouvatsos plans to transfer her Associate of Arts degree from South Piedmont to a four-year institution and earn a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy.  

“I had the chance to shadow my mom’s physical therapist. I like the work. It’s very hands-on, and I like the idea of helping people regain the ability to do the things they enjoy,” she said.

Gouvatsos is looking ahead to her graduation and all that will come after she earns her two-year degree in just 12 months.

“I would say to anyone that if you have the will to do it, you will do it,” she said. “You have to manage your time, and you have to stay on top of your work, but this program is such a great opportunity and such a great asset.”

Learn more about South Piedmont’s Associate of Arts in a Year program.

South Piedmont Paralegal Technology Diploma Student Finds Long-Awaited Satisfaction in Her New Career

Photo of Cassandra Bain

Cassandra Bain

For nearly three decades, even while graduating from college with a degree in finance, getting married, and raising her children, Cassandra Bain always dreamed of working in the legal field.

This fall, at age 50, she will receive her Paralegal Technology diploma from South Piedmont Community College.

“It’s a great feeling,” she said. “This is what I always wanted to do, and now I’m doing it.”

Bain earned her Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Belmont University in 1997 and went on to work in the banking industry for several years before becoming a mother.

For 10 years, she stayed home to raise her family. When the time came to once again work outside the home, she approached the workforce with new perspective. She’d always wanted to work in law, and this time, she was going to make it happen.

She started working as a legal assistant while still living in Chicago, and when she relocated to North Carolina, started looking for paralegal programs. She considered a couple options, but it was South Piedmont’s that proved the right fit.

Specifically, Bain appreciated that South Piedmont offers a degree, diploma, and a certificate in Paralegal Technology. She chose the diploma, which is designed to be completed in about a year and a half. It’s shorter than a degree, which she already holds, but still prepares students to sit for the North Carolina Paralegal Certification exam.

Bain has attending part-time while working as a legal assistant at Cox Law Firm in Waxhaw. She completes the program this fall. She plans to study for the state exam for a few more months before pursuing state certification next summer.

At Cox Law, she is finding the kind of fulfillment she always wanted in her career.

“I get to do a little bit of everything for the firm. I am able to use my finance background by managing the firm’s billing, and I get to assist the attorneys with legal work,” she said.

South Piedmont has helped her gain a broad understanding of state and federal law. Every day, she’s able to put her education to use to assist the attorneys in drafting legal memoranda or completing legal research or interacting the clients. Her meticulousness, which was so valuable during her finance career, helps her keep the firm running smoothly.

Yet, unlike attorneys, she didn’t take on the cost of attending law school, and she didn’t have to pick just one area of the law in which to specialize.

“I know a little bit about multiple areas of the law. Being a paralegal satisfies my lifelong desire to work in the legal field, but at the end of the day, when I leave the office, I don’t have to take it home with me. That’s something a lot of attorneys don’t get to do; they’re working around the clock. I still have that work-life balance that’s so important,” she said.

“It took me a while to get into law, but I found a way to do it that is just right for me.”

Learn more about South Piedmont’s Paralegal Technology programs at spcc.edu/paralegal-technology.

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