ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Jessi Culbertson loves coming to work every day at the North Carolina Zoo.
Her job: take care of the grizzly bears, black bears, bison, elk and red wolves.
In 2015, the zoo hired her over hundreds of other candidates. Jessi credits her degree from Davidson County Community College.
"I was lucky enough to get into the program and fell in love with this career and I finally found my place," she said. "I'm actually getting chills talking about it."
Students like Jessi spend five semesters in the zoo program at the college -- one in the classroom and four completing internships at one of 20 partner zoos in North and South Carolina.
All students with an internship at the North Carolina Zoo.
And the program is a huge success as 17 students graduated last year from the college.
Graduates of the program now work at zoos all over the world.
Currently, 12 graduates of the program are zookeepers at North Carolina Zoo.