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Dana Boone, Digital Media and Communications Representative

"The professionalism, time management and people skills my position requires can truly be traced back to my time in student government at CCC&TI. I never thought my ‘pit stop’ back home would have such a lasting impact on my professional development."

When Dana Boone graduated at the top of her class at Dana BooneWest Caldwell High School in 2007, moving on to a four-year university seemed like a natural choice. So, that’s what she did, enrolling in classes at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. At the end of her first semester, Boone says she was home sick and unsure of what direction to go in for her degree.

She struggled to make a decision as to what to do next. “Making the choice to leave a four-year university was difficult. I was worried what people would think and how it would reflect on me,” says Boone.

Despite her reservations, she decided to make a change. “I made the decision to move back home and attend Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute so I could still make progress in my education, while figuring out exactly what I wanted to do.”

Boone admits that at first she struggled with her decision and her own pre-conceived notions about community college. “When I first went to CCC&TI, I was a little embarrassed to be there. I was afraid people would think I just couldn’t cut it at a ‘real school,’” she said. “I only planned to attend CCC&TI for one semester and then head back to the university system.”

Boone says her plans changed when she met Kim Roper, CCC&TI’s Director of Student Activities, who listened to Boone’s story and helped her get plugged in to several extracurricular activities including the Student Government Association. “She convinced me to run for President of the Student Government Association. SGA is still one of my favorite college memories.”

As President of SGA, Boone says she enjoyed the diversity of students she worked with and got to know, as well as exploring her interests in government, politics and advocacy work. “There were college-aged kids like me, working moms and single dads all working together to organize programs that served our unique student body,” said Boone. “We also planned and executed two student lobbying trips where we set up meetings with government officials in Raleigh to express the importance of funding for the Community College System as a whole.”

Boone says that Roper also helped her land an internship with the News-Topic where she gained experience with writing and publishing. Boone also did several spots on the college’s cable access channel during her time as a student. All told, Boone says that by the time she left the college, she had a long list of activities with which to build her resume.

“When I left CCC&TI, I had experience running an executive board and lobbying on behalf of my organization, I was a published writer, I was comfortable sitting in a board room of organization leaders and I had confidence in my ability to tackle anything that crossed my path,” she said.

When Boone returned to UNC-Charlotte as a junior, with her Associate of Arts degree already under her belt, she says that she was ready for the experience and wanted to get involved from the start. “My involvement in student activities at CCC&TI made me a proponent for student engagement. When I returned to UNC-Charlotte, I made sure to check out the student activities fair the very first day. I went on to serve as both News Editor and Editor-in-Chief for The University Times, I hosted a student produced comedy show, starred in a student written and directed sitcom, worked in the student media marketing department as a sales representative and served as secretary for the Public Relations Student Society of America. While I participated in as many on-campus activities as possible, I also worked part-time jobs off campus to pay for school and living expenses,” she says. “I never would have been able to balance all of my activities, jobs and school work without the skills I learned first at CCC&TI.”

That balance allowed Boone to complete a year-long full-time internship with Hendrick Motorsports where she says she fell in love with the world of NASCAR.

Boone went on to graduate Cum Laude from UNC-Charlotte in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Latin American Studies. As part of her program of study, she also earned the Epley Certificate for International Public Relations.

In addition to her diploma, Boone also received a job offer from Hendrick Motorsports. “My official title is Digital Media and Communications Representative for Hendrick Motorsports. I manage our social media presence and handle media relations for up-and-coming driver Chase Elliott.”

In her position, Boone manages the social media presence for the company across several platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. She interacts daily with a fan base of more than 700,000 people and helps coordinate and schedule media interviews and appearances for Elliott, son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott.

It sounds like a lot to manage, but Boone says she owes her success to her time at CCC&TI. “The professionalism, time management and people skills my position requires can truly be traced back to my time in student government at CCC&TI,” she says. “I never thought my ‘pit stop’ back home would have such a lasting impact on my professional development.”

Despite her initial reservations about the community college experience, Boone says she is a true advocate of all that community colleges can offer to local students. “Today, no one is a bigger - or louder - supporter of the community colleges and CCC&TI in particular. My advice to those considering coming to a community college after high school instead of jumping straight into the university system is – DO IT! CCC&TI is such a great transition for someone used to the small class sizes and easy access to teachers that are common in high school,” she says. “But, if you’re going to do it, don’t half do it. It sounds cheesy, but get involved! Your experience will truly be what you make it and the contacts and skills you gain now really will guide your path in the future.”

In addition to her busy schedule working with Henrick Motorsports, Boone also blogs about social media (follow her at http://communicationcheatsheet.wordpress.com/) and enjoys exploring the local restaurant and brewery scene in Charlotte and watching classic television series on Netflix.