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C-STEP offers students Anderson and West a chance to achieve their dreams (UNC-CH)

Five years ago, LaChaun Anderson never would have considered applying to Harvard Business School. Now, through opportunities made possible by the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), Anderson is on the way to making her aspiration of owning an international import-export company a reality. For Stuart West, hard work and his participation in C-STEP made it possible for him to attend UNC School of Law this fall after transferring to Carolina from Wake Technical Community College.

Anderson, also a Wake Tech student, came from a background that made attending a four-year college a distant dream. She knew that she would have to work hard to overcome the obstacles of her financial situation and limited education. It was between working three jobs while attending classes at the same time that Anderson realized she would never be able to lead the life she desired unless she took the initiative to change it. “I had the drive, but I needed financial assistance and, more importantly, I needed direction,” Anderson said.

C-STEP, a program that encourages students from local community colleges to transfer and graduate from Carolina, makes the adjustment from small college to large university more manageable for students. The program promises talented students from low-to-moderate income backgrounds eventual admission to UNC if they first earn an appropriate associate degree from Alamance Community College, Durham Technical Community College or Wake Technical Community College. C-STEP offers participating students advising, special events and social support before and after the transition. The program plans to branch out to additional community colleges across the state, beginning with Carteret Community College in the fall.

With one of the highest GPAs of the 2009 C-STEP class, West is on track to become a practicing lawyer. While he is still deciding what kind of law he wants to practice after completing law school, he says he is interested in environmental law, criminal justice and public policy.

Anderson, one of 22 scholars accepted into the prestigious Phillips Ambassador Program at Carolina, traveled to China where she attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong and focused her interest to breaking into the Korean market. She hopes that her accomplishments will show others that there are many paths of success open to them, regardless of where they started their journey. “Success is available to anyone regardless of circumstance,” said Anderson. “These are the words that I want to tell my children one day.”