American Graduate Day 2017

October 20, 2017
American Graduate Day Oct. 14 2017

Congratulations to PBS Charlotte’s 2017 American Graduate Champions!

In support of American Graduate Day on Saturday, Oct. 14, PBS Charlotte salutes our local American Graduate Champions – Theresa Pierce, Briant Sowell and Dan Cedrone. These everyday heroes are successfully keeping students on the path to graduation and regularly dedicate their time, talent and resources to developing positive relationships with young people in order to keep them on the road to academic success.


Theresa Pierce

American Graduate Day 2017 - Theresa Pierce at Rowan-Cabarrus Community CollegeWorld history teacher Theresa Pierce relates well with students enrolled in the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Early College program. In addition to earning a high school diploma, the students in this program graduate with a two-year degree. Many of the students are first-generation college students.

“I tell them ‘I failed a course the first semester’ and I try to show them that failure is not the end,” Pierce said. “You can fail something, but it’s what do you do after that. It’s what you propel yourself to do after that. Does it make you better or bitter?”


Briant Sowell

American Graduate Day 2017 - Briant Sowell with 100 Black MenOur second American Graduate Champion is Briant Sowell who is a volunteer with 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte which is a mentoring organization for boys and teens.

“One of things that got me into the 100 is the ability to motivate and inspire children,” Sowell said. “One of the things we notice is that in the ninth grade a lot of students are dropping out of school. So anything you can give them to stay in school and shoot for a goal is great.”

Many of the students in the program have gone on to pursue higher education thanks to the encouragement they have received from their mentors like Sowell.


Dan Cedrone

American Graduate Day 2017 - Dan Cedrone of Poly-Tech Industrial, Inc.Dan Cedrone is the President of Poly-Tech Industrial, Inc., headquartered in Huntersville. From high-tech robots that make precision parts, to turning ideas on paper into new products, Cedrone enjoys introducing students to the wide range of careers in the engineering field.

“I love to bring in the young people and give them a tour around the manufacturing facilities because it allows them to understand that the United States can produce its own products,” and he added, “We can make things here in the U.S. as efficiently and competitively as other countries.”

Poly-Tech Industrial regularly offers student tours and Cedrone talks with the students about the opportunities available in the field.


Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, American Graduate Day will airs Saturday, Oct. 14 from 2-6 p.m. on PBS Charlotte. The program will highlight inspiring individuals and organizations helping students graduate high school while offering student pathways to career success and workforce development opportunities.

If you know someone who is making a difference in the lives of young people in our area like our 2017 American Graduate Champions, send us an email at