The partnership between Wayne Community College and Wayne UNC Health Care led to the two institutions being recognized with the 2018 Distinguished Partners in Excellence Award Wednesday evening.

The award is presented each year to businesses or industries that show a commitment to professional development and the development of North Carolina's workforce through partnership with one or more of the state's community colleges.

Wayne Community College was selected from a field of other community colleges from around the state and is the only college that has received the award twice. The college first captured the award in 2011.

A selection committee made up of State Board of Community Colleges members looks for colleges that have demonstrated advancement for education related to economic and workforce development. It then evaluates those institutions on education, training and services, financial support of a community college program and an active relationship between the company and the community college.

The college and the hospital have worked together over the years to provide students and employees the opportunity to further their skills and education while meeting the needs of the community.

"Without this partnership, I would have not been able to fulfill my goal of becoming a nurse," said Paige Morning, who serves as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Wayne UNC Health Care.

Thomas Walker, president of Wayne Community College, said that the college could not have a better partnership than it does with Wayne UNC Health Care.

"An institution is no better than its higher leadership," Walker said.

He said that the success of Wayne Community College has been because of the outstanding leadership from the board of directors.

Walker also said that he looks forward to many more years of this partnership. He thanked the students of Wayne Community College for making the college their choice for higher learning.

The award was presented on Wednesday evening in the auditorium of Wayne UNC Health Care in what was standing room only.

Ann Whitford, member of the State Board of Community Colleges, presented the awards to both agencies. Wayne Community College and Wayne UNC Health Care will also be honored at a dinner with the state board.

Wayne Community College is one of 58 colleges that make up the North Carolina Community College System. This system is the third largest of higher education in the United States. North Carolina Community Colleges serve nearly 710,000 students. Wayne Community College has an annual enrollment of 11,299. Each year $389,628 is awarded in annual scholarships.

Wayne Community College carries the mission of learning-centered public, associate degree granting institution with an open door admissions policy. Its goal is to meet the educational training and cultural needs of the community.

Wayne UNC Health Care, formerly Wayne Memorial Hospital, is home to distinguished physicians, advance technologies and innovative treatments. Wayne UNC Health Care has served this community and the surrounding area for 120 years.