SALISBURY, N.C. – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Work-Based Learning program has won the top state award for outstanding student and employer of the year for 2022.

Mechanical engineering student Aleah Abernathy was named the 2022 William D. Weston Outstanding Student of the Year by the North Carolina Work-Based Learning Association, marking the third time in four years that a Rowan-Cabarrus student has received the honor.

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, selected as Outstanding Employer of the Year, is the first Rowan-Cabarrus internship employer to win the top award.

Abernathy was offered a full-time position with Turnkey Technologies of Salisbury after completing an internship with the company through the Rowan-Cabarrus Work-Based Learning program and earning her Associate in Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology degree.

“Work-Based Learning is the best way to take what you learn in school and apply it to the real world,” she said. “I learned about the engineering workplace, improved my skills, and learned a lot about myself.”

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, located in Kannapolis, honors musicians who were born in North Carolina or made the state their home. The nonprofit museum houses original memorabilia and artifacts, some personally donated by the artists. Some notable inductees include Andy Griffith, Ronnie Milsap, Chairmen of the Board and John Tesh.

The museum has been a Rowan-Cabarrus Work-Based Learning employer partner for more than a decade, hosting students in programs of study including business administration, advertising and graphic design, human resources, art, and history.

“We discover what goals the student has and plug those goals into our needs here,” said Veronica Cordle, executive director of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Cordle, a Rowan-Cabarrus graduate herself, was hired by the museum after completing a Work-Based Learning internship. Originally hired as an administrative assistant, she was later appointed executive director.

“From my experience of actually being an intern and working with interns, I know the importance of the whole experience,” Cordle said. “We manage interns as a part of our team. Evaluations are a part of our process, which makes sure they are getting the most out of their time here and that our organization gets the most out of their time as well.”

The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Work-Based Learning program integrates classroom learning with real-world work experience to give students a chance to perform relevant duties in fields of interest while also earning academic credits.

“These internships allow students to explore careers and increase their marketability after graduation,” said Hanif Miller, Rowan-Cabarrus Work-Based Learning internship developer. “Students can increase their self-confidence, develop skills to build their resume, and even sometimes land permanent jobs with the companies where they intern.”

Abernathy and the N.C. Music Hall of Fame were honored at the N.C. Work-Based Learning Association conference in Dobson, N.C. As the state winner of the Weston Award, Abernathy will receive a plaque and cash award.

“Aleah Abernathy is a great example of the success students can achieve when they are able to engage in a day-to-day workplace, and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame is a valued partner that consistently offers our students the opportunity to learn, develop and grow,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “Our Work-Based Learning program offers a unique opportunity for students to get hands-on experience and begin to map out a successful future.”

For more information about the Work-Based Learning program, visit For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).