Higher Learning Childcare Academy 9/3/20

Higher Learning childcare Academy has launched a new E-Learning program to assist parents with their child’s virtual learning. Owner, Barbara Borders, says, “We are ready to help families during these unprecedented times and would love the opportunity to help make sure your children are on top of their learning adventure”. E-learning is available for children from preschool to fifth grade. Students will be given space and quiet time to complete their assignments with the assistance of a great team of teachers and the necessary technology. New covid-19 safety protocols are in place. For information visit , or call the Shelby center at 704-484-9001 and Kings Mountain center at 704-259-6044

​​Medical Assisting Students Pinning Ceremony 10/6/20

A pinning ceremony on September 17 honored 12 graduates of the Gaston College Medical Assisting program. The ceremony was held on a drive-through basis due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. As is traditional in health care programs, the graduates received a pin, to be worn on their uniforms, that signifies the completion of the requirements for the Associate in Applied Science Degree in Medical Assisting. The 12 AAS degree students are: 

Jennifer Coffey and Jesus Gonzalez from Lincolnton. 
Cathrine Cozad, Brittani Maney, Faith Rankin, Takeia Reid, and Kaitlyn Windham from Gastonia. 
Kaitlyn Greason from Kings Mountain. 
Jessica Lane from Bessemer City. 
Lauren Robison from Belmont. 
Harlie Graham and Dara Williams from Dallas. 

Nine of the 12 AAS have successfully taken the American Association of Medical Assistants certification exam and have earned their CMA (AAMA) credential. Seven of the 12 students have accepted jobs.  

“Our pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of graduates into the medical assisting profession,” said Dena Bridges, Program Chair for Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy. “When people ask, ‘What is a Medical Assistant?’ I am always happy to tell them that this multi-skilled person is one who is cross trainedfor all areas of a physician’s office practice. MAs can run the front office, schedule appointments, code insurance, and can assist the physician with examinations and minor surgery and also know how to do a variety of laboratory procedures. The Medical Assistant is the most versatile member of the allied health team.” 

Graduate Dara Williams, who was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Gaston County Chapter of Medical Assistants in 2019, is the second Gaston College MA student in five years to achieve a perfect score on her exam.  

“I pushed myself hard to excel in this program,” said Williams, “but honestly I was surprised I got a perfect score in the exam. I consider myself lucky to have the love and support of my daughter and my fiancé. I couldn’t have done it without them or the support of my friends and classmates, and I thank all my instructors and others at Gaston College, like Peggy Grigg, secretary in the Health and Human Services division, for everything they did for me. Special thanks to Melanie Skinner, Chair of the Veterinary Medical Technology department, and Kelly Vass, Instructor of Nutrition and Dietetic Programs. Although I wasn’t one of their students, they always had a kind word of encouragement for me.”  

Williams will be working at CaroMont Podiatry. “I hope to have a long and happy career with CaroMont and may possibly continue my education later, but I look forward to working as a CMA (AAMA),” she said. 

In addition to the AAS graduates, 14 Medical Assisting students who completed the first diploma program were also honored at the ceremony. They will receive their diploma degrees in October 2020. The diploma students are: 

Skylar B. Blalock and Crystal L. Bridges from Dallas. 
Alicia B. Conard from Shelby. 
Lisa S. Crawford, Morgan T. Holt, Latasha Moore Smith, and Janith L. Scott from Gastonia. 
Deepti Devabhaktuni from Belmont. 
Mary S. Johnson from Alexis. 
Savannah D. Pitchford from Charlotte. 
Addison E. Pruitt from Cherryville. 
Keisa Washington-Cruz from Iron Station. 
Brandy M. Weaver from Lincolnton. 
Cierra J. Wilson from Bessemer City. 

The diploma MA students will begin taking the AAMA certification exam in October, and several have received job offers. Five of the 14 students finished with a 4.0 GPA. In recognition of their hard work, the Gaston County Chapter of Medical Assistants will pay the exam fees for Janith Scott, Lisa Crawford, Deepti Devabhaktuni, and Keisha Washington-Cruz, who is the recipient of the chapter’s $500 scholarship for 2020. Mary Johnson’s exam fee will be paid by an outside source. 

The Gaston College Medical Assistant program has been ranked by as the third best in North Carolina. Rankings are based on the site’s Editorial Staff ratings, graduation rate, average net price, admission rate, full-time retention rate, and total number of students enrolled in the program.  

The Gaston College MA program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs. Graduates of the program qualify to take the AAMA certification examination to become a Certified Medical Assistant. For more information on the Gaston College Medical Assisting program, call 704-922-2274. 

About Gaston College 

Gaston College is one of 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System. Serving both Gaston and Lincoln counties, Gaston College enrolls approximately 5,350 students each term in curriculum programs and averages over 12,400 annually in its Economic and Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs. Gaston College offers over 100 fields of study to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate. To learn more about the College’s services and programs, visit the Gaston College website at 

Got a question? ASK US!  

Go to or click on the ASK US! button in the upper right hand corner on the Gaston College website home page.  

ASK US! is an online service designed to assist prospective and current Gaston College students and the community to receive quick responses and answers to frequently asked questions about tuition, financial aid and scholarships, continuing education and more. 

Lynn Nichols Wins 2020 Altrusa Award of Excellence8/3/20

Lynn Nichols, Associate Dean for Health and Human Services at Gaston College, is the recipient of the 2020 Award for Excellence presented by Altrusa International of Gastonia. The award was announced in February at the annual Gaston College Employee Appreciation and Recognition Ceremony. The award was “in recognition of outstanding service to students and representation of the highest ideals of Gaston College and Altrusa International.” 

The Altrusa Award for Excellence recognizes an outstanding Gaston College faculty or staff member who personifies the College’s mission, vision, and values. Nominees are judged on their involvement with Gaston College students and their positive impact on the students’ lives. They must exhibit an enthusiasm for life, concern for others, and a commitment to the concept of lifelong learning. They are also evaluated on their extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to the College, community, or other civic activities.  

Penny Ewing, an Instructor in the Medical Assisting program, nominated Nichols for the Altrusa Award. Ewing said that Nichols is “the epitome of what a lifelong learner and teacher is. She stands above all others in her commitment to hard work and being committed to student success.” 

Ewing continued, “Lynn has always been available for her students, taking time to tutor, to explain and often just to lend an ear to whatever problem they had. I know many times she has found resources for students that were struggling not only academically but personally as well.” 

Nichols is a first-generation high school graduate. She enrolled in the Gaston College Medical Assisting Program in her late twenties. The Department Chair at the time, Betty Jones, was one of her instructors. “She saw potential in me as a student that no one else had ever recognized,” said Nichols, “and she convinced me that I could succeed in college.” After graduating from Gaston College, Nichols enrolled in and graduated from Pfeiffer University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Management.  

While working on her undergraduate degree, Nichols was given the opportunity to work as an adjunct instructor in Medical Assisting and then to become the full-time lead clinical and lab instructor. After becoming a full-time instructor, and with continued encouragement from Ms. Jones, Nichols obtained her master’s degree in Adult Education/Higher Education from Appalachian State University. 

Nichols served over 15 years as the lead clinical and lab instructor in Medical Assisting and then became the Coordinator for Medical Assisting, a position she held for five years. She has been the Associate Dean for the Health and Human Services division since 2016.  

“My educational philosophy includes the belief that it is my role as an instructor to provide a safe and respectful classroom environment conducive to learning,” said Nichols. “Students want to learn content that will be useful, meaningful and relevant to their life and interests. When teaching, I try to connect the learning content to life.” 

Nichols believes that student success is predicated on student retention at all levels, and her efforts toward student retention begin early in the courses she teaches. From one-on-one counseling sessions to requiring students to retake any failed exam to help them master the content, to advising students of the many resources available, including tutoring and financial assistance, Nichols strives to give her students all the tools they need to succeed. 

In her Altrusa Award nomination form, Ewing said that Nichols’ “hard work and commitment have been an inspiration, not only to myself but to others as well. I aspire to be to others what her example has been to many.” 

“Knowing what the Altrusa Award for Excellence represents, I am truly honored to have been nominated for and to be a recipient of the Altrusa Award,” said Nichols. “I believe my receiving this award is actually honoring all the individuals who through the years have mentored and supported me in my education and in my career. I am an alumnus of Gaston College, Pfeiffer University and Appalachian State University, but without the education and opportunities that I first received as a student at Gaston I would not have the career I now have.  

“I am so blessed in my career that it is important for me to make a positive difference in the lives of our students and in whatever role I am in as a member of the Gaston College family, because that is what I have received from Gaston College both as a student and as a faculty member.” 

Altrusa International Inc. is an international community service organization dedicated to making communities better through leadership and service. Through the Gaston College Foundation, Altrusa International of Gastonia established an endowment to support the award in 1993, and the first recipient was selected in 1995. The organization also provides three scholarships to Gaston College students each year. More than $16,500 has been distributed through the scholarships and the Award for Excellence since the endowment began.  

Past Gaston College recipients of the Altrusa Award for Excellence include Barbara Adams, Linda Greenlee, Brenda Falls, Roland Ball, Vicki Greene, Rhonda Smith Wood, Judith Cole, Peggy Truman, Louise Davis, Judy Jennings Bean, Bill Bambach, Bob Blanton, Amy Davis, Nancy Porter, Audrey Sherrill, Dr. Harry Cooke, Dennis Crosby, Mary Clemmer, Adele Earls, Dr. Joe Cagle, Sherry Sherrill, Renita Johnson, Lynn Dellinger, Karen Duncan and Dr. Virginie Maggiotti. 

For information on this and other activities of the Gaston College Foundation call 704-922-6511 or email 

About Gaston College 

Gaston College is one of 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System. Serving both Gaston and Lincoln counties, Gaston College enrolls approximately 8,000 students each term in curriculum programs and averages over 17,000 annually in its Economic and Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs. Gaston College offers over 100 fields of study to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate. To learn more about the College’s services and programs, visit the Gaston College website at 

Got a question? ASK US!  

Go to or click on the ASK US! button in the upper right hand corner on the Gaston College website home page.  

ASK US! is an online service designed to assist prospective and current Gaston College students and the community to receive quick responses and answers to frequently asked questions about tuition, financial aid and scholarships, continuing education and more. 




DALLAS, N.C. (January 21, 2021) - The Gaston College Board of Trustees voted unanimously in November to add athletics to its rich history of academic excellence and leadership. Gaston College has been without athletics for nearly 50 years and when Dr. John Hauser became President last June, he began the process to end that drought. 

A national search was officially organized to hire key leaders to lead the program and the first tier of the lineup is now complete with the hiring of: 

Gene Banks Athletic Director 
Dickey Nutt Associate Athletic Director/Head Basketball Coach 
Shohn Doty Head Baseball Coach 
John Horshok Director Athletic Program Development and Sports Marketing 

"This is an amazing group who will bring instant credibility and excitement to our college and campus," Dr. Hauser said, "Our alumni, students, faculty, staff and community deserve a full college experience and athletics will provide both local enthusiasm and national exposure for Gaston College." 

Banks will manage the coaching staff as Athletic Director (AD) and he brings his legendary Duke University credentials to Gaston College along with the management skills he developed playing and coaching in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and internationally.  

After being named the top high school player in the country Banks helped launch the Duke dynasty and played on Coach Mike Krzyzewski's first team before performing for the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls. He later coached the Washington Wizards with Flip Saunders. He has previous experience as an AD at Bennett College and has a popular streaming podcast--"The Bank Shot" and continues to help support youth programs through his long-running namesake foundation. 

In addition to his athletic director duties, he will be involved with the College's new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as well as work with WSGE 91.7 FM--the College's award-winning radio station. "I am joining Gaston College to strive to achieve athletics excellence," Banks said, "This is a truly remarkable opportunity to design a program from scratch and combine top-notch athletics with a unique community partnership approach." 

"I can't wait! --we want to bring more fun and excitement to Gaston College than they have ever had!", he added. 

Dickey Nutt is a coach in NCAA Division I basketball with 273 wins as well as an award for being "Coach of the Year" at Arkansas State in the Sunbelt Conference.  He is currently a special assistant to the head coach at Cleveland State University, where he plans to finish the season, and is a former head coach at Southeast Missouri State, and former assistant head coach at Oklahoma State, Stetson, and Florida State. 

He was recommended to the Gaston Head Coach job by Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton a former player at Gaston College whose team is the current defending ACC Champions. Hamilton has been also been a passionate adviser to this process of building back a sports program with his alma mater. 

Shohn Doty brings 25 years of college coaching experience to Gaston College and is known for his significant success as a pitching coach and led UNC-Charlotte 49ers to the lowest ERA in Conference USA.  He started his career at Indiana State and then Old Dominion and was responsible for recruiting and coaching future MLB Hall-of-Fame pitcher Justin Verlander. He stayed at Old Dominion for four years before coaching at UNC-Wilmington and Arkansas-Ft. Smith before moving to the Charlotte assignment. 

During his tour with the 49ers his pitchers crafted four wins over Top Ranked Division I teams (Arkansas #4, NC State #6, East Carolina #8 and Wake Forest #17). 

In addition to Banks, Nutt, and Doty--Gaston College has partnered with Horshok's Gas House Gang, LLC--a creative sports marketing group composed of premier sports professionals (including Banks). 

Horshok has a distinctive career representing national and international sports and entertainment business properties and entities to include Coca-Cola USA, Major League Baseball Alumni Association, International Special Olympics, Partners of the Americas/US State Department, USA Rugby, Siemens Corporation, Harmon Killebrew Foundation, and USA Sports Marketing. Horshok will brand and network key relationships for Gaston College and manage the overall sponsorship and community activation targets. 

"We are very fortunate to have John (Horshok) as part of our team," said Dr. Hauser. "His experience with coaching youth and men's programs combined with his long associations with clubs like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals as well as his many associated properties will be invaluable in developing a successful athletic and community model at Gaston College." 

In addition to the baseball, basketball programs GC are now interviewing coaches to head up their Esports, softball and beach volleyball programs. 

Gaston College will begin to recruit players for the 2021 Fall season beginning March 1 and will be fully eligible for the 2022 championship season in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). 

For more information, contact John Horshok, Director Athletic Program Development and Sports Marketing at 336 209-2318. 

CCC Launches New Entrepreneurship Initiative 10/15/2020

Cleveland Community College Launches New Entrepreneurship Initiative: Startup Cleveland The online business portal helps empower local entrepreneurs and small businesses by connecting them with support providers, essential business training, and one another.

SHELBY, NC - October 6, 2020 - Cleveland Community College (CCC) has announced the launch of a new program to support entrepreneurs and drive local economic development, Startup Cleveland. This program — which is tied to the CCC Small Business Center (SBC) — helps entrepreneurs throughout Cleveland County quickly and easily connect to free and low-cost support programs and resources (including current COVID-19 relief) and provides access to virtual training and collaborative tools.

“The Small Business Center provides free, confidential counseling services for prospective, new, and existing businesses,” said CCC Small Business Center Director Stephen Padgett. “As the director, my main responsibility is to provide each client with appropriate resources that will lead him/her to success. As I tell every client, ‘I do not have all the answers, but I will surely help you find them!’ Connecting a client with the proper resource and walking with them as they develop their business is a rewarding, exciting, and enjoyable experience for me.”

Startup Cleveland’s resource-rich website also includes:

● How-to training on essential startup topics

● Direct connection to the CCC Small Business Center

● A community events calendar, which features online webinars and workshops

● Inspiring stories of local entrepreneurs, mentors, and more

Now, entrepreneurs can take advantage of quality support and plug into the local ecosystem in Cleveland County through the click of a button.

Startup Cleveland is one of 10 similar initiatives launching throughout Western North Carolina. The programs are led by community colleges and their presidents, all of whom are members of the NC Rural Community College Alliance. This alliance — formed by Catawba Valley Community College President Garrett Hinshaw in 2019 — serves to align the interests of a group of bold leaders, united in the purpose of activating and accelerating rural entrepreneurship.

Startup Cleveland was developed in partnership with CCC strategic partner,, and made possible through the support of the John M. Belk Endowment and NC IDEA.

Visit to learn more about the regional initiative.


The mission of Cleveland Community College is to drive student success and economic impact for individuals and businesses in our community through diverse education and training opportunities. At CCC, we believe that students succeed when they have the skills necessary to thrive in a highly competitive workforce or academic environment or they have improved their quality of life through the achievement of personal goals. Learn more at