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Distinguished Panel of N.C. Women Helps PCC Celebrate Women’s History Month

WINTERVILLE—A distinguished panel of North Carolina women highlighted Pitt Community College’s Women’s History Month celebration Wednesday in the school’s Craig F. Goess Student Center.

The program, titled “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment” in conjunction with the national Women’s History Month theme for 2012, the featured Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, Dr. C. Neill McLeod and Renee Robinson sharing their stories of personal and professional success through education.

Pinnix-Ragland is Vice President-Corporate Public Affairs for Raleigh’s Progress Energy, where she began working in 1980. She is also chair of the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.

Raised on a cattle farm along with her three sisters, Pinnix-Ragland graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from N.C. A&T State University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University and has completed the Harvard University Kennedy School of Public Policy Executive Leadership Program.

Pinnix-Ragland told the audience she learned at an early age that all she had to have in life was God, family and education. “If you have these three, you’ve got all you need,” she said, adding that, to her, education means “lifelong learning.”

McLeod spent more than three decades working in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) and holds the distinction of being the state’s first female community college president. Her 32-year community college career also includes a number of other ‘firsts’, including first female director of student activities, first woman dean of continuing education, first woman vice president of instruction and student development, and first woman associate executive vice president for NCCCS.

Through her workplace experiences, McLeod said she discovered that education was the key to career advancement. “When I got into education, I found out that I had two strikes against me – I was a woman and I was a woman without a doctorate, so I changed that,” she said.

McLeod said it was “a freeing moment” for her personally when she realized she was a lifelong learner. She said over the years, education had helped her develop self-confidence and a ‘can-do’ attitude.

A little more than a year ago, Robinson became the first female African-American to be appointed to the position of Assistant Director of Special Operations for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).

Though she earned a criminal justice degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she didn’t pursue law enforcement as a career right away. It wasn’t until she realized she had a penchant for catching shoplifters while working for Eckerd Drugs that she finally decided to “take a chance and do something different.”

After graduating from the 20th SBI Academy, Robinson said she overcame numerous gender barriers by putting her down and working hard.

“I’d go [on raids], and make sure I was the first one through the door,” she said. “I wanted to show them that I could do it, too.”

Robinson said she eventually earned a master’s in criminal justice from East Carolina University, which has helped her in her current role with the SBI.

“I love my job,” she said. “If I had not taken a chance, I probably would not be enjoying what I have in life. Without a master’s degree, I probably would not have my current position.”

Robinson concluded her remarks by encouraging the audience to “embrace learning."

Each year since 2001, PCC has held a program to celebrate the achievements of women. The event is held each March in conjunction with the nation's observance of Women's History Month.