Tag: Education Page 1 of 5

The College of William & Mary

Alan Williams ’92 and his path to the NFL

Alan Williams ’92 wanted to be a teacher. He planned his entire life out step by step based on that one known fact. After graduation from the College, he started teaching at Norview High School in Norfolk, Va. Then he started helping out with the school’s football team. He planned that eventually he’d become head coach and someday he’d make his way into school administration.

But then the NFL got in his way. 

Williams recently was a part of something that approximately 100 million Americans watched a few weeks back. Williams is the secondary coach with the Indianapolis Colts and his franchise won its first Super Bowl title in decades. 

“It was a great feeling,” said Williams. “I hate to say that it was anti-climactic, but it was. Just to get there, and we had fallen so short the three years before. To beat New England at home to get to the Super Bowl, that was really a big deal. To win the Super Bowl for (head coach Tony Dungy) and as well as just the personal satisfaction to get over that hump after falling short for so many years.”

“And really proving the critics wrong,” he added.

Williams and Dungy had been criticized all season long because of the team’s perceived under-performing defense. Williams’ defensive secondary — which is usually comprised of four to six players who cover the wide receivers and tight ends and defend passes from the quarterback — was a part of the overall problem. But as soon as the playoffs started his squad was a big part of the Colts’ ascension to the championship match-up against the Chicago Bears.

“(Our secondary) was just coming around to getting healthy,” said Williams. “I think the players did a better job of taking ownership of what was going on. They were not happy for sure with how we were playing and I think that they took it upon their shoulders to be more responsible for what was happening on the field. And we as coaches I think did a better job of mixing up what we called.”

Williams thinks that it may all have been great timing for his team — and great teaching. He believes that there is much more to the game of football than most understand, and that it requires a great teacher to get players in position and help them understand its complexities. Perhaps that is why this former teacher has been so fortunate in his young NFL career thus far.

“(Football) is so different in terms of what you do and how you do it,” said Williams. “You’ve got to understand what other people teach you and convey that to your players. If you’re a good teacher, you can coach football.”

And Williams credits many of good habits and abilities to days spent learning at the College. Not just on the field, but in the classroom as well.

“When you’re a William and Mary student, you have to do a lot of things at a high level in competition with a lot of people,” said Williams. “It makes you multi-task. It makes you prioritize your time. It sets you up for whatever you do — to do it at a high level. 

“Coach Laycock demanded that we go to class and that we represented the football team in a good way,” said Williams. “You’re there to play football but you’re also here to be a student athlete. You also had to perform in the classroom at a high level. Not everyone is subjected to that. So when you come out of William and Mary you have a leg up when you enter the workforce. 

“When I taught, I felt better prepared than the people I was teaching with,” said Williams. “And it was the same with football. As a coach, the day isn’t done until you finish with your work. You’re not governed by a time clock. That’s how W&M was. You keep doing it until you get it right until you’re done. Not just finished with it, but the product is a good product. That is a lot like what the real world is and a lot like what coaching is.”

Williams feels that his time on campus was special, and makes a point to stop by for a visit at least once a year. He remembers fondly the nights when he was up late at night at Millington 101 and up on the third floor of Swem Library.

“I also liked walking down DoG Street and getting a smoothie from the ice cream shops,” laughed Williams. For now, Williams and his wife Lisa do their walking with their three boys. 

Now that he’s been a part of a Super Bowl-winning team, the future is bright for Williams — though his first focus is helping to guide his Colts back to the playoffs and possibly win it all again. Though Williams has been rumored to be the next defensive coordinator or the Vikings, he’s making sure that all doors of opportunity are left open.

“I want to have my squad perform at a high level on a consistent basis,” said Williams. “I think that what people are looking for is consistency. They want to know can you do that next year and the year after. That’s the testament of a good coach. If you can put a good product on the field and have them perform on a consistent basis. Right now it’s just to be the best secondary coach that I can possibly be. If that turns into possibilities like a coordinator or a head coach – that would be great. I’ll welcome those when they come. As of now, it’s to do what I do and to do it well.”

This was originally written for The College of William & Mary.

Rappahannock Community College

RCC Celebrates Graduates During 46th Annual Commencement

The 46th Annual Commencement celebration at the Rappahannock Community College Warsaw Campus took place on May 11 and saw 400 students earn diplomas or certificates. This group of graduates will be able to jump into the working world and begin their career of choice or transfer to a four-year school to continue their education.

Dr. Elizabeth Hinton Crowther, president of RCC, spoke and set the stage for the evening, by highlighting the accomplishments of her school, including the scholarships the RCC Educational Foundation give each year; the new Military Friendly status of the College; the high ranking of the RCC Nursing program and more. Crowther also highlighted the achievement of the RCC Technology Department, announcing that the team earned a Digital Community Colleges Survey honor for being the #2 ranked community college for using a range of technologies to improve services (with 5,000 or fewer students).

Crowther then gave the stage to a member of the Class of 2018, Brittany Ward, of Gloucester, who shared her story of failure, success, and leadership as she pursued her goal of becoming a professional nurse.

Ward’s story inspired many, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) who referenced her journey more than once during his keynote address.

For Warner, Ward’s story of failing twice as she made her way to the top of the RCC Nursing program and ultimately graduation. Warner shared how he failed at “life” three times before getting involved in the development of the cellular industry, and thanks to hard work and insight, he was able to help form the NEXTEL corporation, which eventually was acquired by Sprint.

“Through my success in business and success in politics, none of that would have been possible if I had not I hadn’t been willing to try, but also to take the consequences of failure,” said Warner.

“As Brittany said, there is nothing wrong with failure, as long as you’re able to get back up and get back into the game,” he said. “I hope you’ll take those same kinds of chances and risks as well.”

Throughout his story, Warner shared three points that he wanted the graduates to hear and remember. Not fearing failure, staying engaged in the national conversation and political process and never “forget to call your mother.”

“The truth is — you didn’t get here alone,” said Warner. “There’s someone out there in the crowd who encouraged you along the way.”

“After [graduation], go find them. Don’t tweet them, don’t Snap Chat them, don’t Facebook them … go call them and thank them and tell them that you love them.”

Crowther then took the stage to honor longtime RCC English professor Glenda Lowery, of Tappahannock, proclaiming her a professor emeritus, in honor of her 37 years of service to the College.

Once that completed, the moment all had been waiting for began.

As the students heard their names called, they left their seats to accept their diplomas. For many, it was the first step in a longer journey, like the RCC Nursing ADN and PN students, who will continue on with NCLEX testing and additional training. Over 110 ADN and PN graduates crossed the stage, the most ever for RCC’s top-ranked Nursing program. Others, like the four students who earned a Certificate in Diesel Technology at the RCC Site in New Kent County, will dive into their careers immediately.

Still others, like Kainen Phillips, the student from Essex County who earned all As and one B during his time at RCC will transfer his credits to Virginia Tech in the fall. Phillips, who portrayed the RCC mascot, Squall the Seagull for two years, hopes to be able to continue his mascotting and become the Hokie, changing from a seagull to a turkey.

At the end of the evening, as graduates celebrated with their families, all agreed that the time sacrificed to earn their degree, diploma or certificate was well worth it.

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

Professor Bob Parker to carry ceremonial mace for Commencement

Each year, Rappahannock Community College chooses a member of the faculty to carry the mace in the commencement ceremony. The mace, for RCC, is not a weapon but an ornamental symbol of authority carried by an honored member the staff. For commencement this year, that honored faculty member is Professor Bob Parker.

Parker, who has worked at RCC since 2002, is beloved by many students past and present for his wry wit and excellent abilities to explain and break down complex mathematics. Through this 16-year tenure, Parker has amassed a huge list of awards and accolades, both from within RCC and from outside organizations.

He moved to the Northern Neck from Virginia Beach in 1996, when he started teaching math and coaching golf at Northumberland High School. Since that time, he has also become a significant force in scouting throughout the region.

“I am currently a unit leader in Northumberland and the District Chair for the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula Boy Scouts,” says Parker. “I also will be serving on the National STEM scouting subcommittee starting this June and have worked at the last two Boy Scout National Jamborees in the STEM Area.”

STEM stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math,” which is a major push among many educators across the country. So, it is fitting that Parker works within the scouting ranks to make STEM learning an emphasis.

Parker says that the most rewarding part of his job at the College is helping to make sense of math to his students who would not otherwise “get it.”

“Working with students to overcome struggles with math both inside the class and outside the classroom,” says Parker, is what motivates him each day.

While he’s the respected go-to guy for math at RCC, his wife, Patricia, serves nearly the same type of role at Germanna Community College. You can bet that the subject of “math” is a common one during dinner at the Parker house.

“Patricia and I have served on many state committees together,” he says. “We are very similar in our teaching style, so we are able to bounce ideas off of each other.”

The Parkers have two sons, who are both Eagle Scouts and graduates of Northumberland High, and both took dual enrollment classes at RCC. Their eldest son Ryan is an Occupational Therapist in Harrisonburg, while their younger, Adam, is a junior at the University of Utah.

In his free time, Parker enjoys camping, restoring a family home that has been in his family for 150 years and “occasionally playing golf.”

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

Longtime RCC Professor Lowery honored with emeritus status

Glenda Lowery started her career at Rappahannock Community College in the Summer of 1979. She’s still at it.

This Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the RCC Warsaw Campus during the 2018 Commencement ceremonies, Ms. Lowery will be officially recognized as a professor emeritus, which recognizes her nearly 40 years of service to the College.

Looking back on all of those semesters, the Tappahannock native will tell you that she hadn’t planned to be at RCC for so long but is very happy that it turned out to be the case.

“I was going to VCU, and there was a masters degree called teaching in the community college,” she says. “I had to do an internship at a community college. So I walked into Mr. [Wallace] Lemon’s office and plopped myself down and said ‘can I do my student teaching here?’ and he said ‘fine’.”

She began teaching English for RCC full time in September 1981 and just ended her run at the end of 2016. But she’s done with RCC just yet. For almost a year, Lowery has been assisting Dr. Glenda Haynie on some projects, including massive college reaccreditation project. She is also involved in the upcoming 50th Anniversary of RCC, which will begin on January 9, 2020.

“Through the 50th anniversary, we can go back and look at former students and what they have done and celebrate that,” she says. “I am looking forward to that!”

Lowery says that the biggest change in the classroom was “obviously” the technology. Computers and devices like the iPhone made teaching and learning completely different.

“When you think about it, we were still using typewriters and Xerox machines when I started,” she says. And it was those tools that she and her students used to create the old RCC newspaper, which was called The Gull.

“For several years [The Gull] was based on just the Warsaw Campus,” says Lowery. “But when I started teaching at the Glenns Campus too, I would go there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was a project-based class called English 198, and I had two groups of students.”

Through the newspaper class and the many others she taught, one thing remained constant for her.

“I enjoyed interacting with the students and watching them grow and progress and take other classes and graduate,” she says.

And it was that drive which carried her through the 37 years of service, which is now responsible for pushing Lowery into a new type of relationship with RCC — becoming one of the few faculty who have been honored with emeritus status.

“I am humbled by it, and I would like to continue to be an ambassador and a representative of the College,” says Lowery. “It helps me maintain my ties here.”

Lowery has been married for almost 29 years. She and husband David have one daughter, two grandchildren and have always had dogs and cats.

“And I am trying to get chickens,” says Lowery.

“I think that RCC is a great institution and I think it’s a great place to work,” she says. “I have been here so long; I must have liked something about it!”

“There are people here that I feel like I’ve grown up with and they are part of my family,” says Lowery. “I’ve seen people here get married and have children then grandchildren. This place has a great culture and a great atmosphere.”

“I hope that we can help as many students as we can — I know we’ve helped a lot.”

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

Governor Ralph Northam Visits the RCC Glenns Campus

On Friday, January 26, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam visited the Glenns Campus of Rappahannock Community College. Though his visit was brief, the governor toured the campus and was able to see some of the new initiatives underway at RCC.

Dr. Elizabeth Hinton Crowther, president of the College, met Northam as he exited the helicopter. He greeted the faculty, students, and staff who gathered outside the main entrance to catch a glimpse of Virginia’s 73rd governor.

Dr. Crowther, who has known Northam since he was a representative for Virginia’s 6th District, which included the Eastern Shore (Northam’s home) and Mathews County (part of the RCC service region), took the governor on a tour through the main campus building with stops at the new Culinary Arts lab, the new Industrial Manufacturing and Engineering Lab and into the welding lab.

As he visited the Culinary Arts Lab, which is scheduled for completion in the next week or so, the governor met Chef Hatley Bright and told her that he would return as soon as the lab was complete so one of her classes could “cook him something.” Bright blushed and said that she “absolutely” would invite him back.

Next, the governor toured the newly redesigned Industrial Manufacturing and Engineering Lab, which will be used both by for-credit academic programs, as well as the programs run by the RCC Workforce Development team.

“It’s important to get folks into these Workforce Development [programs] for training our youth — but not only youth — but training everybody for 21st Century jobs,” he said.

Finally, Gov. Northam visited the RCC Welding Lab, where he met students from Mathews and West Point High Schools, who are working on industry credentials which would prepare them for careers in after graduation. The governor paused to take a few photos with the students, including a few “selfies.”

As he left, Gov. Northam, he thanked all for coming out to greet him and remarked that his visit to RCC was his first visit to a community college since becoming governor.

Upon that remark, many in the audience wondered aloud “why was RCC his first pick?” Student Ariana Dragone said, “it’s because we’re awesome!”

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

Rappahannock Community College, RAM Of Virginia Health Event Serves Nearly 700 Patients During Nov. 4-5 Clinic

It started on the evening of Friday, November 3, when the huge white trucks rolled into Richmond County Elementary School’s parking lot. Out of these trucks came thousands of articles of medical supplies and equipment unloaded by an army of volunteers. Like the specialized teams who support a military force, these hundreds of volunteers were all on a 48-hour mission — to provide as much free health care as possible.

For five hours, the volunteers carted dental supplies and vision equipment, sheets and blankets and countless other items into the brick building. They transformed the gymnasium into a 25-unit dental clinic, complete with space for its x-ray team. Halls were waiting areas, which led to rooms of miniature medical clinics and vision examination bays. Soon a mammography truck pulled up. Folks arrived prepared to give flu vaccines and even more people, who were not trained in the medical arts, pitched in. All worked to help RAM of Virginia achieve its mission.

RAM, short for “Remote Area Medical,” is a non-profit organization started in 1985 with the intention of bringing healthcare to those who have none. The RAM organization has served more than 700,000 individuals since its inception, delivering $112 million in medical services.

While the national RAM organization serves much of rural America and beyond, Virginia is lucky enough to have its own spinoff group, RAM of Virginia, that set up shop in Warsaw to provide service to the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula residents without regular access to health care services.

As the moon shone over the school Saturday morning, the line of those seeking service stretched far past the steel-covered walkway into the dark. A large white paper, duct taped to the wall read that patients could request flu shots, physicals, medication and nutrition education, HIV testing, mammograms, podiatry, vision, hearing testing and other services.

Donald Payne of Westmoreland County and Tammy Kimble of Saluda have never met. Donald works for a small auto body shop, and Tammy works for a multinational cleaning services firm, neither of them have health insurance through their employer.

“We were there at 4 a.m., and I was 253, and my brother was 257 in line,” says Payne. “Once we got inside it was a pretty good wait. Dental was already filled up.”

Payne was there to have his teeth looked at by a dentist, something, he admits that he’d been either putting off or did not have the time for. On the way, he figured it would be a filling, but the dental team decided to take the tooth out instead.

After that, Payne mentioned that he’d been having some problems with his foot.

“This girl said she had just seen the podiatrist; she told me that I should go see him too. I didn’t know there was going to be a podiatrist,” says Payne. “He messed with my foot and asked me about it.”

The podiatrist gave Payne an injection, which helped a lot, especially in his line of work in the automotive field.

Tammy Kimble also needed a little help. She was having trouble with her vision and she tried over the counter reading glasses, she struggled with headaches, tension, and blurry vision. And if affected her work and the ability for her to care for her grandchildren.

“I hadn’t been to the eye doctor for over 20 years. I know that is really bad on my part,” she says. “When I went up there for the RAM, that was the only thing I had on my mind — getting my eyes checked.”

Kimble waited for her turn and went through three rooms of examinations. The doctor found that her left eye was giving her trouble due to cataracts and other issues. From there, the RAM of Virginia vision team crafted her new glasses on the spot. She even got to pick out the style of the frames.

“I like to be on Facebook at night,” she laughs. “I know that’s not very good. But my eyes have been feeling better, and there’s no more tension in my forehead.”

Dr. Victoria Molnar Weiss was the top tactician who guided the RAM of Virginia army through its Warsaw mission. Dr. Weiss and her small group of RAM professionals were, in large part, responsible for coordinating the operation and ensuring its success.

RAM of Virginia relies on local volunteers to secure a landing space and provide logistical support. For this operation, the job fell to Carrie Lewis, a member of the nursing department at Rappahannock Community College.

To borrow a Northern Neck term, Lewis is a “move-here,” meaning that she lives in the area but was not born here, but Lewis has lived here since sixth grade and considers Warsaw to be her hometown. For Prof. Lewis, having the opportunity to bring health care to her home and to serve those who she lives with for the second time — RAM of Virginia partnered with RCC in 2015 — is a real gift.

Lewis says that the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula of Virginia have very high rates of need, especially for medical treatment.

“We looked at the data and the statistics on poverty in our region,” says Lewis. “Some of it was based on the number of kids who apply for assistance services for lunches. And if they are having trouble serving lunch at home, then there’s not a lot of extra money for glasses. If we can’t afford the basics, then we cannot afford the medical necessities.”

Lewis started coordinating the 2017 RAM clinic as soon as the 2015 clinic wrapped up. For almost two years, Lewis and her partners in the RCC nursing faculty team, Ellen Koehler, Becky White, Sara Headley and Leslie Lantz, put together a game plan for this November’s event. They worked tirelessly to seek potential partners who could donate funds, food or time, and sometimes all three.

Some of that prep work went to the students in the nursing program who volunteered their time to support RAM. Students worked with other volunteers or moved medical equipment to the school, while others coordinated the golf carts and trash cans. That task was done by nursing student Emily Kuhn of New Kent County.

“I was the part of the facilities coordination,” says Kuhn. “I called to see what kind of outside services were willing to donate their services, like Waste Management and W.C. Lowery’s.”

Kuhn knew of the RAM organization and was excited to be a part of this clinic.

“I saw a RAM documentary, and I wanted to be a part of it for several years,” she says. “It was cool to play a small part. I grew up in a family where we ministered to everyone, no matter what, especially people who are less fortunate. It’s something you do.”

While some RCC students operated in the logistical space, others were on the front lines of treatment. Lynn Louise Payne was one student who got to put her nursing skills to the test.

“In the morning, I was actually on triage, and we performed blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and also blood glucose checks,” says Payne. “We also did a little interview with the patient.

“We would ask them what their latest immunizations were, and if they had any drug allergies like penicillin. We’d also get a medical history, like if they had heart problems or a history of seizures or stroke.”

Payne and her nursing assistant would investigate the patient’s needs and point them in the right direction for where they would get care.

“We would fill out the information, and we had a runner who would pick up the card, and the runner would know that they were ready to go to the next station … dental, medical or vision,” says Payne, who found the work tough but the experience incredibly rewarding.

“I loved it,” says Payne, who lives in Mathews. “It was a wonderful way to go out there and do something. We use the nursing process whenever we’re in clinicals, but it was wonderful to be able to practice that in person.”

Kuhn and Payne were among a number of RCC students who came to volunteer. That list includes Myrtle Atwell-Sholl, Madison Bates, Sarah Camacho, Alex Clark, Chris Dunn, Jamie Garcia, Katelynn Headley, Kirsten Harvey, Hannah Hayes, Inigo Howlett, Lesley Hunter, Dakota Kuca, Nikki Marshall, Brook McLeod, Merri Grace Sabo, Tyler Seay, Courtney Shelton, Christy Steensma, Lindsey Vanleliveld and Kim West.

RCC nursing graduates came to pitch in as well, including Chad Forrester, Yanelys Harper, Blanca Lopez and Caleb Stone.

The College had volunteers of all stripes throughout the clinic from Chef Hatley Bright, Rhett Moore and Martha Rest who operated the volunteer cafeteria; the nursing faculty including Susan Perry and Health Sciences Dean Charles Smith were all on site to lend a hand. Other RCC staffers who helped include Marlene Cralle, Canice Graziano, Lisa Hill, Therese Johnson, Charlene Jones, Kimberly Kent, Bob Parker, Sarah Pope, Karen Turner, Kathy Van Landingham, Rebecca Guest, Chris White and Hutt Williams.

And RCC’s most prominent staff member rolled up her sleeves too to pitch in for the clinic. President Elizabeth Hinton Crowther pulled a wagon around the school on Saturday afternoon offering sandwiches, apples, and water to those who waited for treatment. Dr. Crowther smiled and greeted all, and explained that RAM for RCC was a “labor of love.”

As the sun set on Sunday afternoon, all of the equipment, supplies, and volunteers left Richmond County Elementary School. Lewis admits that she cannot say where all 580 volunteers came from, nor can the organizers with RAM of Virginia.

“The organization has such a good reputation that people just show up,” says Lewis. “They just sign up online, even if they’re not from the area. We were able to give them all a role.”

After all the white trucks hit the interstate, 696 people received free medical treatment of one type or another through Nov. 4-5. The value of that treatment in dollars was $249,582, but for those who do not have access to healthcare, it was worth so much more.

“Between me and my husband, we have 19 grandchildren, and I babysit ten of them in the summer — and in the summer, we go everywhere together,” says Tammy Kimble, whose eyes are now working as good as they have been for years.

“I just wanted to say thank you all so much for having the program.”

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

Essex High School’s Cole Bristow on Football, his Future and Fluting

Cole Bristow will tell you that he lives in a small town in a rural area. His school is small, and the band he plays for is “proportionately” small as well. This becomes clear on Friday nights at the football field at Essex High School, when the band is performing, and the flute solo can be heard very clearly. That is because there are only two flutists in the band, one of them is named Cole Bristow.

While Cole and his family enjoy their life on the Middle Peninsula, living in the “country” has not affected his educational options, thanks to Essex High School’s partnership with Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS) and Rappahannock Community College.

Since his sophomore year, Cole travels to the RCC Warsaw Campus in the mornings to attend CBGS classes. These are categorized as “dual enrollment courses,” which means that Cole will be earning credit toward an associate degree, and they will be transferrable to the next level, at the four-year school of his choice.

Cole is excited about working on his college credits while in high school. He says that thanks to this opportunity, he will be able to enter a four-year university as a junior, and excel to a masters degree more quickly.

“Currently I’m one credit away from being able to get my associates,” says Cole. “I am one PE credit away. I’m on track.”

In this, his senior year, Cole is taking physics, calculus and marine and environmental science, which, he says, is essentially oceanography. These classes appeal to him, and his career aspirations of becoming a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study hurricanes and how to better track and image them.

“I like science and math,” says Cole. “I want to research energy and maybe find new renewable energy sources, besides the ones we currently have.”

The experience for Cole and CBGS at RCC has been very positive.

“I like the curriculum here,” he says. “High school is okay, and all, but the curriculum here is so much more challenging and engaging. If you put in the work into it, it’s extremely rewarding. Also, it’s really fun as well, if you enjoy learning.”

His immediate next step after graduation next spring are still a bit of a mystery, and Cole will not say where he wants to transfer his credits to. In fact, he has been hedging his bets.

“Maybe U.Va. but I am not sure,” he says. “I have over 30 college t-shirts from many different schools.”

For the next few months anyhow, Cole is balancing his days as an Essex High School, CBGS, and RCC student, homework doer, video game player, Netflix watcher, son, brother and one of just two flutists for the Trojans’ marching band.

“You might hear me at the games,” he laughs.

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

Meet a member of the RCC Class of 2017 — April Wobken

Some people start their post-high school career with a path set in stone. Each step of the route is carefully measured and planned out. But for others, there is a bit of growing that is involved in their path, and the steps are taken more carefully.

April Wobken, is part of the second category of college student. After she graduated from Gloucester High School in 2013, she thought she would start down the same path as many of her peers. She applied to a four-year school but was not accepted. This first alteration of the “normal” path through college started April on the path to RCC, and eventually to the University of Mary Washington.

“Originally I wanted to go to Christopher Newport University right out of high school, but they did not take me because of my math,” says April. “I was discouraged from that experience.”

After the letter from CNU, April decided to try working for a while. Her thought was that perhaps she did not need more schooling and that she’d rather make money instead. She spent time working at GameStop and Cook Out, served as a lifeguard and taught yoga as well.

“While I was working, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t care about money! I want something better than this’,” says April.

It was her parents who recommended that April try out RCC. This turned out to be a smart decision for her since she always felt like weakness in math was what kept her from entering CNU. She started and then stopped again, and restarted at RCC in Spring 2016, and was able to work through all of her math classes, thanks to helping from RCC math professor Therese Johnson.

“Prof. Johnson was so very nice to me,” says April. “My other developmental math teachers did pretty well too, but Prof. Johnson took the extra mile. She was so encouraging and would get excited for her students. I love that sort of teacher.

“Thanks to her, I got through developmental math,” says April. “And even after that, with Algebra and statistics, I would go to her, and she still helped me, even though I wasn’t her student. I appreciated her because math is my worst subject.”

With the help of Therese Johnson, and another Prof. Johnson — Lori Johnson — an English professor at the RCC New Kent Site, April was quickly racing toward her goal of earning an Associate of Arts and Sciences Transfer Degree.

During all of this, April became a part of the Student Ambassador team, who work events for the College, attend events and represent RCC in public and assist new students as they start orientation.

“When I first got the student ambassador job, I had a lot of jobs, so I was like ‘I don’t care if I get this.’ I got called in, and I thought that it was not a big deal if I get this. And then I got it,” says April. “And it took a while to settle in and I though, ‘I am so glad that I got this job.’ This job and yoga were the only jobs that I haven’t gotten tired of.”

Though her time as a Student Ambassador was a working position, she found that this post made her feel closer to RCC in general.

“I liked having a leadership role,” says April. “Sometimes even when I was off the clock and in class, a student would come into the wrong classroom, and others would say that I was a student ambassador and that I can help. Being looked at as someone who can help people and point them in the right direction, I like.”

In May of 2017, April earned her degree from RCC and will transfer to Mary Washington this Fall. She intends to double-major in English and psychology, which she hopes will allow her to create stories and books that will be both exciting and therapeutic.

“I have found that in tough times if you can find a really exciting story, that can bring excitement to your life,” says April. “But I like psychology too; I feel like I understand it. It would make my writing better too.”

Before she leaves Gloucester for Mary Washington, April is planning one last pit stop on her path. She’s organizing an AIDS charity event, which combines her love for yoga and her favorite musician, the late Freddie Mercury of Queen.

Her “Yoga for Freddie” event will take place at the Gloucester Yoga Studio on August 6 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and will benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, which fundraises for AIDS awareness and research worldwide. All are invited to attend.

Reflecting upon how things have changed for her since 2011, April has a soft spot in her heart for RCC and has become sort of a champion for the community college experience in general.

“I think RCC is a great option,” says April. You can’t mess it up. With a four-year school, there is so much more expectation and pressure. But with a community college, you can still live your life and figure things out. It’s best to keep things that way so you can figure things out.

“Here you can do that, and there are a lot of faculty who are very helpful,” says April. “When people talk to me, and they tell me that they are graduating from high school, I say that I know that four-year colleges look good, but I think you should look into a community college.

“It’s not as flashy from the outside, but once you get in — it’s really cool.”

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

RCC earns Second Place in National Technology survey ranking

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) announced the winners of its 2017-18 Digital Community Colleges Survey, and Rappahannock Community College was again among the winners. This year, RCC brought home a second-place ranking in the small college category. This marks a positive move for RCC since CDE ranked the College 3rd over the past two years.

“This evaluates how we stack up against our colleagues from across the country — in our case, community colleges with under 5,000 students,” says Tim Hoffman, an eLearning Specialist in RCC’s Technology Department.

Hoffman served as the primary information collector for RCC. He worked with the rest of the Technology team to answer and submit the survey. All of the questions required all members of the team to have input.

While Hoffman is happy with RCC’s new ranking, he’s not sure exactly what pushed the College up to the number two spot. Hoffman and his colleagues do not get specific items on which they are graded in from CDE.

“They ask many questions differently each year,” says Hoffman. “This year a lot of what we were talking about was the design of our many of our systems, including the website and other learning applications.”

Though he’s not sure what the ranking liked about RCC exactly, Hoffman says that he and the team will continue to innovate and find new solutions for making the learning experience better.

“Not all technologies are mandatory, but we have a lot of different tools that can be used,” says Hoffman.

“Our classes aren’t just ‘show up and write down notes.’ We have a lot more interactive materials that go along with them.”

The Technology Department at RCC includes Hoffman, Michael Anthony, IT Security Officer; Rhett Moore, Network Technician; Dave Newsome, Network Operations Manager; Drew Metz, Network Technician; Benjamin Smither, Evening Technician; Brandin Thompson, Network Technician; Kathy Vanlandingham, Administrative Assistant and Joe Wolski, Network Technician. At the time of this ranking, the team included Dr. Virginia Jones, who served as RCC’s Dean of Technology, but now is employed at Patrick Henry Community College.

The survey revealed insights about community colleges’ technology priorities in general. Colleges surveyed indicated that mobility devices/app support is their top priority for the coming year, followed by cybersecurity tools and testing, website redesign/updates, upgrading classroom technologies, digital content and curriculum, and disaster recovery/business continuity.

All accredited U.S. community colleges are eligible to participate in the Digital Community Colleges Survey within three classifications based on enrollment size.

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

Rappahannock Community College

King George High School grad to achieve RCC degree

A 2014 graduate of King George High School, Savannah Carabin began pursuing higher education via Rappahannock Community College’s dual enrollment classes, and will complete an associate degree in Spring 2016 — without ever having to leave her home county.

“My experience at RCC [the off-campus site at King George High School] has been extremely satisfying,” Carabin says, “because I gained valuable skills that helped me get a job.” Her dual enrollment classes made her familiar with a number of computer design programs, and she uses this knowledge in her work as a graphic designer for a local shop, “Rocky Top Embroidery & More.”

In addition, she says, “I own my own photography and freelance graphic design business. I hope to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University and receive my bachelor’s degree in graphic design, advertising, or both.”

“I feel that I am adequately prepared for the transition,” she continues, “as RCC’s curriculum is very similar to VCU’s.” In addition, VCU is close enough to allow her to come home often, so as to continue her volunteer work with a number of civic organizations in King George and neighboring counties.

Several of these, such as the King George Chamber of Commerce, the King George High School chapter of DECA, the King George Fall Festival Queens’ Pageant, and the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair Queens’ Pageant, provided her with scholarships to attend RCC.

“I like to volunteer my time to various organizations and community events, like the 4438 Professional Firefighters Golf Tournament,” she says. “Whoever needs my help knows where to reach me.” She is also closely connected with the “My Vote Matters” Facebook campaign, a community outreach endeavor of the King George DECA chapter which strives to educate citizens on the importance of voting in local and state elections.

A recent internship with the King George County Department of Economic Development, as well as the associate degree in business administration that she will receive this spring, will add essential experience and knowledge to help Carabin make her own way in the world. Her eventual goal is to found an advertising firm, or a new branch of Rocky Top Embroidery — in either case, “to help small businesses brand themselves to compete in the ever-changing economy.”

Carabin’s RCC classes, she says, were “greater than I ever expected. Everyone has been so accommodating. Ms. Turner [King George site supervisor Karen Turner] always has everyone’s best interests in mind. Most of the site staff know my name, and take the time to know a little bit about everyone.”

She rates RCC’s faculty at “12 out of 10,” and states, “All of my teachers have taught me valuable life lessons” — Dr. Pearl Rayms-Keller, Robert Parker, Michael Jagielski, and Terry Abell are some that she found particularly inspiring.

Carabin credits her father, a salesman in the automotive industry, as “my biggest advocate for my education and well-being. After watching him struggle during the recession, he taught me the importance of resiliency, remaining humble, and learning to not be dependent on others” — as well as how to drive a stick-shift, change the oil in her car, and change a tire. These lessons were reinforced by her mother, who by earning a business degree online while working to contribute to the family income “taught me the benefits of being independent, self-reliant, and not allowing anyone else to define you.”

“I am an avid photographer, wake surfer, coffee addict, and pageant enthusiast,” declares Carabin. “I just competed at the ‘Miss Virginia’ Association of Fairs Pageant, which is a ‘Miss Virginia’ preliminary, and I was given the opportunity to speak about what I’ve done with my platform, ‘My Vote Matters’. After my year of service as ‘Miss Stafford County Fair’ is over, I plan to work with the Stafford County Agricultural and Homemaking Fair committee to help them get ready for next year’s pageant, and to prepare the contestants as to the importance of community service, leadership, manners, hospitality, and public speaking.”

This was originally written for Rappahannock Community College.

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