Local News

Local coronavirus cases down

12 COVID vaccine cardCumberland County improved from a Substantial Spread of COVID-19 to a lesser tier on May 27,
according to the N.C. Department of Health of Human Services county alert system. This is based on the case rate, positive percentages and hospital impact scores. Cumberland County is one of 41 counties statewide that improved from Orange Tier (Substantial Spread) to Yellow Tier (Significant Spread). The County Alert System is updated biweekly.

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals ages 12 and up at locations throughout the county. According to the state, 309 Cumberland County residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 29,531 cases in Cumberland County reported since the onset of the pandemic.

Local man named head of State Highway Patrol

04 SHP Colonel Freddy L Johnson Jr FIThe North Carolina Highway Patrol has sworn in a new commanding officer. Colonel Freddy L. Johnson Jr. has been named the 28th commander of the S.H.P. He is a Cumberland County native and has been in public safety work all his life. After graduating from South View High School in 1989, Johnson was hired as a full-time firefighter and since 1996 has served as deputy chief of the Stoney Point Fire Department. Colonel Johnson attended Fayetteville State University and earned a criminal justice degree. He joined the North Carolina Highway Patrol as a State Trooper in 1995 and was assigned to Robeson County while maintaining his volunteer firefighter responsibilities. Johnson’s promotion ceremony on June 4 included remarks from Governor Roy Cooper, and N.C. Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks.

Pictured Above : Col. Freddy L. Johnson Jr. 

FTCC Class of 2021 graduates during outdoor ceremonies

10 FTCC Photo 3 DSC 7425 Natasha BrownFayetteville Technical Community College held its 59th Annual Commencement exercises outdoors on its Fayetteville campus May 14. The event marked a return to in-person commencement exercises. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College held a virtual graduation in 2020. The easing of constraints made it possible for FTCC to hold in-person ceremonies this year even as safety protocols were observed.

For the first time, the College held its commencement exercises on its Fayetteville campus, under large open-air tents. Three separate ceremonies were held simultaneously in three locations on campus to allow for social distancing. Graduates were under the tents. Family and friends watched from outside. The ceremonies were also streamed live and recorded for later viewing.

More than 600 graduates participated in the in-person ceremonies. All 1,970 of the College’s 2021 graduates were included in a virtual ceremony that premiered on May 15.

The keynote speakers at this year’s ceremonies included the Hon. Robert Wilkie, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Dr. Mark Sorrells, FTCC’s Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Services; and Dr. Murtis Worth, the College’s Dean of Nursing. Wilkie, a native of Fayetteville and a graduate of Reid Ross High School, was also the keynote speaker for the College’s virtual graduation ceremony.

Wilkie told graduates that he had watched FTCC grow from a small technical college into “a wonderful institution dedicated to the human spirit.” He said education is a gift that can transform a person’s life. He urged graduates to use that gift to find and pursue their passion.

“Remember what you’re passionate about, what will make you get up every day for the rest of your life,” he said. “Whatever you’re lacking in optimism, remember your special responsibility because of where you are, and what you’ve been granted. To hold up those who don’t fall to cynicism and to hold up those who see a world not as it is, but as it should be. So, be passionate.”

FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen visited each ceremony. At Tent B, taking place on the front lawn of the Tony Rand Student Center, Keen told graduates success is not a destination, but a journey.

“Please don’t stop here today, and say you made it,” he said. “But understand the real joy is in the journey. Take what you’ve learned, apply it and experience joy with every step that you take because it takes you to better fulfillment of life and the things you do. Every single person has purpose, has an opportunity, a series of opportunities to
do well.”

FTCC’s 2021 graduates earned a total 3,926 associate degrees, diplomas and certificates from 280 curriculum programs in these areas: Allied Health Technologies, Arts and Humanities, Business, Computer & Information Technology, Engineering and Applied Technology, Math and Sciences, Nursing, and Public Service.

In addition, 76 students graduated from the College’s Adult High School program and 43 students graduated from the High School Equivalency program.

Pictured Above: Keynote speakers encpuraged graduates to remain passionate about their goals. (Above Photo by Natasha Brown)

Recognizing diversity is first step to celebrating AAPI heritage

01 Fisher1Pacific Islanders make up 1.4 million and Asian Americans make up 22.9 million of the U.S. population. The AAPI population has doubled from 2000 to 2019 and is projected to surpass 46 million by 2060 according to the Pew Research Center. Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

“One of the biggest issues facing the community right now is how the Asian American community is viewed as a monolithic group, leading to issues facing a diversity of populations being overlooked, particularly highlighted over the past year are barriers to accessing services,” said Ricky Leung, co-founder and senior director of programs for North Carolina Asian Americans Together, or NCAAT.

Language needs and socioeconomic levels vary drastically for different Asian American populations which leads to decision making that would gloss over the very real needs of already underserved communities, Leung said.

The NCAAT is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on bringing together the Asian American community in North Carolina through civic engagement and political participation. For more information on the NCAAT mission or volunteer opportunities, visit https://ncaatogether.org/

“Between the 2008 and 2012 elections, the Asian American eligible electorate in North Carolina grew by 27.8%, compared to overall statewide growth of 6.1%,” Leung said. “However, Asian American eligible voters are still behind in turnout and have the lowest voter participation rate of any racial minority in the state.” One reason behind this issue was that according to a 2016 study, over 70% of Asian Americans had never been contacted by a political party or candidate, he said.

“Even when they were contacted, the outreach was unlikely to have been culturally competent or to have taken into account the language needs of this diverse population,” Leung said

Founded in 2016, NCAAT’s goal was to fill this gap by focusing specifically on increasing civic engagement and political participation in the Asian American community. NCAAT was the state’s first and only pan-Asian social justice organization.

Since 1978, May is observed as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month in the U.S.

Master Sergeant Cathy Fisher of the U.S. Air Force is stationed at Fort Bragg and celebrates her Asian American Heritage year-round but is excited about the opportunity to introduce others to her heritage during the nationally recognized month of May. She identifies her heritage as Thai, and a mix of Thai, Laotian and Chinese ethnicities.

“Food is a big part of Thai culture, as well as Asian cultures in general,” she said. It was always fun for me to introduce my non-Asian friends to food they had never seen, smelled or tasted and I brought in spring rolls for my coworkers a few weeks ago in celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”

One of her favorite things about Thai culture is the Loi Krathong, a water festival. “The first year I attended, my mom explained to me that the tradition of Loi Krathong was to light the candle that was put inside of a lotus flower-shaped candle holder, make a wish and then send your lotus flower out on the water for your wish to be released and come true,” Fisher said. “It was such a beautiful sight.”

Fisher said she enjoys the diversity in the Department of Defense and has met many in the service with her cultural backgrounds and part of the AAPI community which has been great.

Many DoD installations celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by inviting speakers and veterans to share their experiences in overcoming challenges that face the AAPI community, and or celebrate the culture by hosting events where people can sample authentic cuisine as well as experience cultural elements like dance or music, she mentioned.

“As an Asian American woman, I was raised to be quiet and accommodating, the stereotype of being quiet, timid and subservient is a common one that is applied to Asian women,” Fisher said. “The Air Force taught me to speak up, it helped me find my voice to share new ideas, teach others what I had learned and to advocate for those who needed my help.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the country saw a rise in hate-crimes against Asian Americans. According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 149 percent between 2019 and 2020, in spite of overall hate crimes in the country declining.

The Anti-Asian sentiment has been deeply disheartening for her and has made her worry about her 70-year-old elderly mother, Fisher said.

“A lot of feelings of helplessness came up as I saw more violence towards the AAPI community,” she mentioned. “I try to choose compassion when I don’t understand a situation and I couldn’t understand why anyone would attack an elderly Asian woman or shoot people for going to an Asian massage parlor.”

Leung said some ways to spread awareness about issues affecting the AAPI community is to read more diverse authors and learn about the diversity of experiences of various communities.

“Be intentional in outreach, think about who all is directly impacted and what are the best ways to make services more accessible to those who need them the most,” he said. “Thinking through language, culture, technology, means various parts of accessibility.

Cumberland Community Foundation awards $250k grant for FTCC nursing expansion

 02FTCC Foundation received a grant of $250,000 from Cumberland Community Foundation for the expansion of the nursing program and renovation of the Nursing Education and Simulation Center. The grant is the second largest grant received by FTCC Foundation for the nursing expansion. The largest grant received for the project was from the Golden LEAF Foundation for $961,200.

“Cumberland Community Foundation makes a significant difference in improving the lives of the citizens of Cumberland County,” said FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen. “Our Nursing Education and Simulation Center has been enhanced significantly by their support and ongoing commitment to the students, faculty and our community members by their generosity and ongoing fulfillment of their vision and mission.”

The grant is in honor of Cumberland Community Foundation’s 40th anniversary. The lobby in the Nursing Education and Simulation Center will be named for Dr. Lucile West Hutaff, the founder of Cumberland Community Foundation.

Dr. Hutaff was the first full-time female faculty member at Bowman Gray School of Medicine where she served for 29 years. Her career was dedicated to helping others through preventative and community medicine. When she retired and moved back to Fayetteville, she created Cumberland Community Foundation with a donation of stock valued at $576,840. In 2020, Cumberland Community Foundation assets were valued at $115,419,715. CCF has paid $61 million in grants and scholarships since its inception.

A second room in the Nursing Education and Simulation Center will be named in memory of the founders of the first five community endowments at Cumberland Community Foundation. These endowments support the best opportunities and greatest needs in Cumberland County, NC, every year. The founders are: Rachel W. and J. S. Harper; Elizabeth E. and Thomas R. McLean; Mary Y. and Walter C. Moorman; Iris M. and James M. Thornton; Mary B. and Wilson F. Yarborough.

FTCC will renovate the building that formerly housed the childcare center to create a dedicated nursing education facility. This will add new simulation and skills labs, classrooms, meeting spaces and faculty offices for the nursing program. Three nursing programs will be housed in this facility – Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Certified Nurse Assistant I & II (CNA). These programs will be moved to the 33,500-square-foot, 2-story building from their current location in the Health Technologies Center, which will continue to house 13 other programs. The first floor of the nursing education facility will be completely renovated. The second floor includes 9 classrooms and 10 faculty offices and will not need renovation at this time. This renovation and expansion will allow FTCC to increase its capacity for nursing students and to provide much needed graduates to the medical community.

FTCC Foundation partners with donors to support Fayetteville Technical Community College by raising awareness and financial resources to provide college access for students to attain their educational and career goals. The mission of FTCC Foundation is to foster and promote the growth, progress and general welfare of FTCC, provide supplementary financial support to the College and its students, and advance and enrich the services provided for students, the community, alumni, faculty and staff. FTCC Foundation manages more than 200 scholarship endowments and other funds.

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