We are lucky to have four wonderful places of higher education right here in Rowan County: Catawba College, Hood Theological Seminary, Livingstone College, and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. We are even luckier that a lot of alums love their four years in RoCo so much that they stay here and get jobs, make families, and continue to contribute to our community. I wish that I could spotlight all of these special alumni, but I wanted to share an extraordinary alumnus from each college that loved this county and their college experience enough to reside here upon graduation.
From Hood Theological Seminary to Livingstone College
Carl Brown, a graduate of Hood Theological Seminary, majored in Biblical Studies and recently graduated in May of 2019. Carl says that Hood Theological Seminary prepared him for the real world by emphasizing the moral, social, ecumenical and philanthropical responsibility he has as a fixture, not only in Rowan County, but the world as well. Currently a Culinary Instructor at Livingstone College, Carl shares that he feels privileged that his Masters of Divinity grants him the opportunity to teach.
Before graduating from Hood, he got a Bachelors of Art in Marketing Management and worked in food service for 33 consecutive years. Since the current role he serves in is part of the School of Business at Livingstone, he feels he is in the right place, as all his degrees and experience line up accordingly. Originally from Macon, Georgia, he said he stayed in Rowan County upon graduation because he “wanted to be an asset to the community in which he resides financially, socially, and ecumenically.” He currently lives in the China Grove area and cites his two favorite RoCo attractions as the Refuge Church of God in Christ and none other than Livingstone College!
RCCC: A Place to Call Home
Mark Hill, a 2017 Mechanical Engineering Technology and Industrial Engineering Technology graduate of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, cites RCCC as the place that gave him his confidence back. An “air-force brat,” he moved around a lot as a kid, but ended up in Rowan County in August of 2008 and has been here ever since. He learned about the opportunities at RCCC through his wife, who took a hiatus from work while raising their twin boys, but went back to school for Nursing at RCCC after.
“She enrolled, graduated, and got a job, so then it was a no-brainer for me to attend as well. I worked in retail management for 25 years prior, which was never my plan, but kind of got stuck in it thinking there was no hope of going back to school. But after discovering RCCC, an affordable, reputable community college, it was really a simple choice,” says Mark.
Now, Mark is a Project Manager for Turnkey Technology, which helps businesses take advantage of modern business solutions, while staying focused on growth. He got the job through an internship the college hooked him up with, and has been with the company ever since. He says the college uniquely prepared him for the position, as his two technology majors are both used daily in his role as Project Manager.
Currently a resident of Salisbury and serving on the Salisbury Human Relations Council, Mark loves RoCo and strives to give back to his community any way he can. He says his time at RCCC and his role as a student ambassador got him attached to a lot of people, and he just couldn’t see himself anywhere else!
When asked what his favorite part of his time was at RCCC, he says “I love the way that no matter where I was, what I was doing, it felt like I was part of a family here. I could reach out to anyone and all they wanted was the best for you, and for you to succeed. If you needed help, the staff here found a way to help you. I hadn’t experienced that elsewhere, and it was inspiring to be in a place where people had your back.” You can definitely tell Mark loves RCCC, as a member of his immediate family has been enrolled there for the past nine years! His twin boys are currently there, attending the Rowan County Early College.
Mark loves historic downtown Salisbury and celebrates the fact that we’ve held onto all of the historic structures, when a lot of sister cities are modernizing everything. He wants Your Rowan readers to know that no matter where you are in life—a transitioning worker coming out of a career, a person who just got laid-off, just graduated high school, trying to decide where to go to college—RCCC could be the very place for you, as you are able to receive an affordable, credible education that could really be life-changing for you and your family!
RoCo Girl Through and Through
Born and raised in western Rowan County, Lauren Henson loves all things RoCo, so it was only right for her to attend Catawba for her undergraduate degree! Recalling her time at Catawba, she says, “When I consider how Catawba prepared me for the real world and my favorite part about Catawba, these two are probably one in the same. I was a student in a diverse population with a variety of interests and backgrounds. I traveled abroad for the first time – a big step for a small-town girl attending college in her hometown. I was encouraged to find my voice, explore areas that interested me, and was nudged outside of my box. What I probably value the most is the chance to grow into an adult surrounded by professors that genuinely valued me as a student and whom I consider my friends today.”
While getting her Health Science degree at Duke University, she lived in Durham for two years. She says, “It was exciting and convenient to live in the “big” city for a while, but with my family, church, and friends here, it was not too hard to come home. And besides, it’s hard to see the stars in the night sky with the big city lights. Salisbury and Rowan County have great restaurants, unique shopping and events, the theater and arts, and fun sports and recreation – Go Indians! All the things of a big city, but on a smaller scale.”
Lauren became a certified physician assistant in 2015 and returned to Salisbury to work with Piedmont Family Medicine. Their practice serves adults, many of who are elderly. As part of her Piedmont Family Medicine responsibilities, she also serves as a physician assistant for Trinity Oaks Nursing and Memory Care. Lauren enjoys caring for aging patients and is grateful to work with a great staff.
This past March, Lauren and her husband, Brett, were married in Omwake-Dearborn Chapel, now a very special place for both of them! Not originally from Rowan County, Brett has gotten to explore RoCo with her, and Lauren says they “enjoy the variety of restaurants in downtown and supporting fundraisers and events in the community.” Though she can’t pinpoint a specific favorite RoCo attraction, she recalls taking a ride on the Polar Express last year in her pjs and loving every second!
Excellence…The Livingstone Way!
Carmen Burton was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. During middle school, her family moved to Bristol, Virginia. She made her way to North Carolina and RoCo when she discovered Livingstone and wanted to attend. She graduated in 1990 with a major in Business Administration and found employment within the Salisbury area, so she decided to stay. Additionally, she says “The small-town life was more my speed rather than the big city life!” She was a teacher at Salisbury High School for many years and was then hired by the Department of Commerce.
She says she can’t pinpoint her favorite part of Livingstone College because all parts have the highest value in her life. Today, she is Livingstone College’s 2019-2020 National Alumni Queen!
Her favorite Rowan County Attraction is the unique downtown area. She especially loves Go Burrito and AnnaCraig Boutique.
These are just four of the incredible people who have graduated from a RoCo college and are still here today. The colleges in Rowan County, as you can see, equip their students with all the tools needed to be successful in the real world. We are lucky that so many alumni stick around and contribute to our thriving community long after their degrees are finished.