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Continuing education students chosen as Ambassadors for NC Association

Taking just one continuing education class at Robeson Community College could change your life forever as four students recently discovered, after completing the community health worker training.

The four – Jose Chavez, Melissa Elliott, Charissa Smith, and Ashley Owens – were recently selected through a highly competitive process to serve as ambassadors for the North Carolina Community Health Worker Association (NCCHWA).

In total 6 individuals from across the state were named ambassadors.

“This is such an amazing accomplishment of our students and it speaks volumes about our program, which is highly sought after and attracts students from across the state and beyond,”
stated Christy Locklear, Interim Dean of Continuing Education. “It is so exciting to know that these students started at RCC… it shows that we must be doing something right for four of the six ambassadors to have received their training here.”

Locklear adds, “Students state we have a very attentive team that spends time assisting our students by always being available by phone or email.”

The training, Locklear says, is four months long and leads to a state certification. Job opportunities exist in multiple industries from insurance to healthcare.

“If you don’t have a job, this certification will help you, and we will help connect you with agencies looking for community health workers,” Locklear said.

As for the ambassadors, those selected will serve as liaisons to the regions they are assigned to, develop strategies, serve on the Credentialing Counsel, and support new member recruitment.

Jose Infanzon Chavez
IMG_7162 (1) Juan Chavez Community Health Worker AmbassadorJose Infanzon Chavez will serve in Region 1 of the state. Originally from Mexico, Infanzon Chavez spent 18 years working in retail until he started serving the community he lived in as a Recruiter/Outreach Specialist for the Migrant Education Program. It was during this time that he learned how important and impactful it is to assist underserved areas.

“As a community health worker, my work has expanded to understand, not just to connect and assist the clients with needs, but also to advocate for them,” stated Infanzon Chavez. “It is an honor for me to represent my Region.”

Infanzon Chavez wants to bring equity to those underserved and underrepresented to find new and creative ways to outreach in his community.

Melissa Elliott
Melissa Elliott Community Health Worker AmbassadorMelissa Elliott will serve Region 4 of the state. She currently serves on the Henderson City Council. Elliott’s background is in criminal justice, having served in various positions such as Correctional Officer, Correctional Case Manager, Gang Intel Unit, 911 dispatcher, and most recently as the Gang Officer for the Vance County Sherriff’s Office. Her love for criminal justice and her passion for youth catapulted her into founding her own organization, Gang Free, Inc. Elliott believes that her education combined with her passion for her work has opened many doors for her to utilize her abilities in informing school systems, churches, community organizations, and others about the perils of gang activity.

“I led 21 community health workers in the heart of the pandemic, across five counties,” Elliott said. “I led vaccination clinics to the most marginalized and vulnerable communities fighting food insecurities, delivering food and Covid packages to the doors, as well as assisted homeless families and individuals to receive emergency housing vouchers.”

“It is an honor to serve the Community Health Workers, I am elated,” Elliott said. “Thanks to you all at Robeson Community College.”

Charissa ‘Nikki’ Smith
Charissa Smith Community Health Worker AmbassadorCharissa “Nikki” Smith will serve as an ambassador for Region 5, having been born and raised in southeastern North Carolina. Smith has experience working with substance abuse, mental health, and recovery, in addition to infectious disease prevention and awareness. She has worked with Duke University School of Medicine, which is where she was first introduced to the community health worker role. Smith is a certified peer support specialist, whole health action management facilitator, and certified phlebotomist technician. She is currently seeking to become a CPR/First Aide Instructor. Smith is employed with a non-profit organization that focuses on reducing recidivism for injustice-involved individuals re-entering society after being released from incarceration.

“We’re trying to help open doors for the formerly incarcerated individuals in the community,” said Smith. “Giving them fresh opportunities to build, grow, and break barriers.”

“I look forward to continuing to share my experiences, skills, and compassion to uplift all members of my community and the surrounding areas,” Smith said. “I am truly grateful and honored to have been selected.”

Smith went on to say, “Thank you all for having such a supportive and wonderful curriculum! Without your help, this opportunity would not have been possible! I look forward to taking more continuing education courses with Robeson Community College, I really enjoyed it.”

Ashley Owens
Ashley Owen Community Health Worker AmbassadorAshley Owens will serve her term advocating for people in Region 6. She is a registered medical assistant who has worked in healthcare for almost 15 years. She is currently employed by United Healthcare as a Community Health Worker supervisor and a member of the DEI Committee. She hopes to complete her bachelor’s degree by 2025 and looks forward to traveling to various countries and serving her community.

“I find joy in knowing that I can not only help my community but that I can make a difference in it also,” Owens stated. “Without Christy Locklear’s help and guidance, I wouldn’t be a certified Community Health Worker.”

The other two ambassadors selected are Cassandra Wright Glen who will serve Region 2 and Tamika Williams who will serve Region 3.

“We are extremely proud of these students,” stated Eric Freeman, Vice President of Workforce Development and Continuing Education. “We congratulate them on their achievements of being selected as an ambassador for the North Carolina Community Health Worker Association.”

To learn more about the Community Health Worker program at Robeson Community College, please contact Christy Locklear at or (910) 272-3609. The next class at RCC is slated to begin March 13. Students can register online at


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