Graduate News

Where They Are Now

In celebrating 25 years of WE are WINGS, we are adding this special Graduate News webpage entitled, Where They Are Now. This section will feature brief updates with links to full articles of our graduate scholars as we catch up with them since graduating and entering the workforce.

A special thank you to Heather Caudill of AvidXchange and Deborah Bosley of The Plain Language Group for leading the effort to interview graduates in a special Q&A format article. Be on the lookout for these articles coming soon.

From time-to-time, the articles will take on a reflective narrative, with mentors who have stayed in touch with their scholars sharing their update.

Catching up with April Edwards (2018 Graduate)

Scholar April Edwards graduated in 2018 from Johnson C. Smith University with her bachelor's in social work.  After graduation, April left single parenthood behind upon marrying the love of her life to raise her two boys in holy matrimony. As a first generation to earn a degree in her family, April continued her education, earning her Masters in Social Work in 2020.  Within the same year, she received her Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA) designation. She currently works for Hope House Foundation, a transitional living facility for women and their children, as a social worker. She also serves as a therapist with Within U Solutions and an employee relations investigator with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Her mentor was Regina Wharton.


Scholar Mimi Christensen graduated in 2018, Cum Laude, with a bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing. What makes this significant is that shortly after being accepted as a WINGS scholar, she was diagnosed with cancer, and continued as a full-time student amidst multiple surgeries and chemo treatments. Today, with her cancer in remission, she enjoys multiple creative outlets including painting, tailoring her own clothing, composing classical music, and working on the manuscript for her first book, which will share her journey with cancer through the lens of humor and enlightenment, and hopefully helping others with their own journey through cancer.


Scholar Teresa Shelton graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Queens University. She is the proud mother of three adult children and enjoys also being a grandmother. She feels truly blessed, having been a first-generation to earn a degree, being able to travel abroad to many destinations and enjoy numerous hobbies and collections, amidst a rewarding career.  She recently celebrated her 20th anniversary as a Registered Nurse with Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, currently serving as a Stroke Navigator for the Neuroscience department.  Her WINGS mentor was Mary Bruce.


Scholar Shontea Smith graduated in 2008 with a BS in Religious Studies at UNCC and went on to two Masters Degrees from UNCC and Duke Divinity School. Shontea serves as Ministry Coordinator with St. Paul's AME in Chapel Hill as well as Executive Director of United Voices of Efland Cheeks Community Center. Shontea's WINGS Mentor, Cindy Quinlan, has stayed in touch post-graduation and was delighted to share an update. Enjoy this first edition of Where They Are Now written by Cindy Quinlan.

Catching Up with Doni Shepard-Steele (2008 Graduate)

Scholar Fridonna (Doni) Shepard-Steele graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, and minors in Public Health and American Studies. She was selected as a scholar while attending CPCC and ultimately earned her four-year degree at UNCC. She is currently earning her Masters in Social Work from Capella University, where she was recently accepted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society. In addition to serving on Capella's Social Work Leadership Group, she serves on the professional service boards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, and the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board. She is the proud grandmother of first grandchild, born in January of 2021, and is looking forward to beginning her first practicum with the Indian Health Service working with the Navajo Tribe, allowing her to give back and honor her Native American heritage. Her WINGS mentors were Pam West and Frances Queen.