August 9, 2017
The qualities that have helped Cheyenne Brown and Paige Garner succeed on the volleyball court and in the classroom, in high school and at Sandhills Community College, have also provided them with a path to Chapel Hill through C-Step.
The Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-Step) targets high achieving students of low to moderate income families. Students transfer to UNC as juniors after earning an Associate of Arts or Associates of Science degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 from one of 10 partner community colleges.
The highly selective program, begun in 2006, is funded by monies provided by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Since then, C-Step has served close to 600 students, including more than 200 that have graduated from UNC. It aims to ease the transition to Chapel Hill, through mentoring and team-building, and a series of activities that engage them with the students, staff, and faculty of UNC.
“Cheyenne and Paige are stellar in the classroom and on the court,” says Tim Nocton, the coordinator of C-Step and Department Chairman/Associate Professor of Physical Education at Sandhills. “We’re trying to push them past their comfort levels athletically and academically and help them grow as a person. It’s been fun watching them take on these challenges and grow.
“It’s a great program and we’re very proud of our students.”
Sandhills became a C-Step partner college in 2012. Five of its 2017 graduates are heading to Chapel Hill for the fall semester. Brown and Garner are part of a group of five heading into their final year at Sandhills. Eleven incoming freshmen have been selected to be a part of the program.
Brown and Garner are both products of North Moore High School where they were teammates on the volleyball team. Brown has earned All-Region X honors in both of her seasons as a setter for the Lady Flyers and is the team record holder for assists in a single season and for her career. She also earned top NJCAA academic honors with a 4.0 GPA as a freshman.
In connection with her career goal of becoming a dentist, specializing in Orthodontics, Brown changed her major to science and is beginning her third year at Sandhills. She was accepted into C-Step last April. She will remain connected to the volleyball program this coming season as a student assistant coach.
“C-Step is an amazing opportunity on an academic level, but I’ve been a Tar Heel fan since I was little and started watching sports,” Brown says. “It’s like my dream school.”
A first-team All-Region X selection last season as a Lady Flyer freshman, Garner was accepted into C-Step prior to coming to Sandhills. As a middle hitter, she posted the second highest single-season total of kills in the eight-year history of the program. She is pursuing a career as a physical therapist with a minor in exercise science.
Participating C-Step students that receive their associate degrees with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 are guaranteed admission to UNC Chapel Hill.
“This is an awesome opportunity and I really wanted to take advantage of it.” She says. “I’m kind of nervous about it, but equally excited. I know I’m going to have to work hard, but it is going to be worth it because it is such a great school.”
Coupled with the success of the volleyball program, and the introduction of Sandhills Promise this year that makes SCC tuition-free for Moore and Hoke County residents that meet certain requirements, C-Step gives Lady Flyers’ coach Alicia Riggan one more thing to talk about to potential recruits.
“Not everybody gets accepted and it’s a huge honor to have two of our players accepted in one year,” the coach says. “They are a part of a special group just like they are as members of the volleyball team.
“Cheyenne and Paige are both very motivated,” according to Riggan. “It makes my job easier as a coach that we seem to attract those kinds of girls. It trickles on to the court because they are more disciplined.”
The Lady Flyers have received team awards from the NJCAA two of the past three years for having a team GPA of 3.0 or better. Last season it was 3.27 led by freshman Erica Groff with a 4.0. Brown, and soon Groff, will have plaques furnished by the NJCAA displayed on the wall at Heins Gymnasium commemorating the earning of the top individual academic honor.