49erNext, an initiative between UNC Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College announced on Oct. 3 at UNC Charlotte Center City, will create a seamless pathway for individuals who want to start a degree at the two-year institution and complete it at UNC Charlotte.
Distinguishing 49erNext from similar, existing transfer programs between the two institutions is “proactive advising.” 49erNext students will be eligible to transfer into more than 75 undergraduate degree programs encompassing 130-plus majors at UNC Charlotte as long as they earn an associate degree at Central Piedmont with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.
“This partnership with Central Piedmont will ensure UNC Charlotte, which admits the highest number of transfer students in the UNC System, is meeting students’ academic, financial aid and career planning needs while making the transfer experience as seamless as possible,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “49erNext is designed to produce a greater number of workforce-ready, qualified graduates at a significant cost savings to them. Nearly 60 percent of the inaugural class of 49erNext participants represent underrepresented populations, which is significant given that higher education is an essential path that can lead to greater economic mobility.”
In addition to proactive advising, students enrolled in the program will have access to:
- a coordinated set of support services in critical areas like career planning and financial aid
- free student privileges on UNC Charlotte’s campus including admission to select Charlotte 49ers athletic events, library access and admission to campus events
- discounted CATS all-access light rail and bus pass
- discounted access to UNC Charlotte recreational facilities
For fall 2019, 111 students are enrolled in the 49erNext program. This past year, about 4,000 transfer students enrolled at UNC Charlotte—69 percent came from a North Carolina community college and 29 percent of those came from Central Piedmont Community College.
Elli Pineda is among the inaugural class of 49erNext students. He is the first in his family to earn a high school diploma. The Garinger High School graduate struggled to maintain his grades as a freshman, but eventually decided “to take control of my future” and enrolled in his high school ROTC program. He discovered a passion for computers, improved his grades and saw college as a real possibility. As an Opportunity Scholar at Central Piedmont, Pineda is working toward an associate degree.
“The 49erNext program is a perfect fit for me; it will allow me to explore UNC Charlotte in a different way than most students, and I can hang out with my friends who are already on campus,” said Pineda.
Gabriela Mencia ’15, a manager with Wells Fargo Advisors, is an alumna of Central Piedmont and UNC Charlotte, so she knows firsthand about making the decision to begin her education at a two-year school before transferring to a four-year institution. A native of Honduras, Mencia moved to the United States while a seventh grader.
“I only spoke three words of English—hello, window and red,” she said.
But she dedicated herself to her studies and graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA. She, too, was a first-generation college student who had to navigate the application process on her own. Paying for a four-year university was not an option, so she decided to focus on Central Piedmont.
“I learned and grew so much as a student and person,” said Mencia. She became involved in student activities, which gave her greater confidence to become a leader. Looking to the future, she decided to continue her education as a 49er.
As a Belk College of Business student, Mencia was encouraged to apply for internships, obtaining one with Wells Fargo. Upon completing a bachelor’s in business administration in 2015, she joined Wells Fargo full time, and she has been promoted four times.
“The encouragement I received from professors at Central Piedmont and UNC Charlotte helped me become the leader I am today,” Mencia stated. “I truly feel that my professors were invested in me and cared for me beyond the classroom.”
Central Piedmont President Kandi Deitemeyer stated, “Institutions the size of Central Piedmont and UNC Charlotte sometimes can be challenging to navigate for students. Those students in the 49erNext program will have a clearly marked map leading from one institution to the next. This program will serve the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community well as we seek to produce more individuals with bachelor’s degrees to meet our growing workforce demands.”
Central Piedmont and UNC Charlotte have agreed to make collective institutional decisions and implement policies and processes that commit to:
- Put students first - enable students to earn a quality degree in a timely manner
- Foster success - ensure and expect all students to achieve their full potential
- Ensure equity - ensure that all students, regardless of gender, race, income or family educational history, have equal opportunity
Building on the partnership with Central Piedmont, UNC Charlotte hopes to expand 49erNext to other North Carolina community colleges.
Students interested in learning more about the 49erNext program should visit cpcc.edu/49erNext or email 49erNext@cpcc.edu.