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Virginia Western launches new Agriculture Program for Fall 2019


Virginia Western Community College announces a new Associates Degree in Agriculture that will be available beginning in Fall 2019. The program is designed to be flexible and tailored to individual student needs.

The Agriculture Program is transferrable to four-year college, where students can pursue career paths such as extension work, agricultural education, agribusiness and veterinary medicine, for example. Alternatively, if students are not interested in transfer they can modify the program to include technical skills, such as welding, which can help them in their home agribusinesses. Currently there are approximately 330 different careers available in the agricultural industry.    

“The Roanoke Region has a robust agricultural history and we are excited to be offering this truly outstanding program to students,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Helping individuals develop the skills they need to succeed in an 21st Century farming and agricultural landscape, we believe we will have a lasting positive economic impact on our region.”

Specialized classes such as animal science,  plant science and forestry will provide students the basic skills needed to maintain livestock, land and forests. Other classes in the program, such as agribusiness and welding can provide skills needed to handle farm finances and farm maintenance or provide an avenue of additional income.

“Agriculture is interwoven into the history of our region, which is home to more than 4,000 farms,” Austin said. “Virginia Western’s Ag program will ensure that farming remains one of our cornerstone industries for decades to come.”

In addition to launching the Agriculture Program, Virginia Western will also announce a new guaranteed transfer agreement between the program and Ferrum College’s Agricultural Sciences major. Students completing the Virginia Western Agriculture Program will be able to begin as a junior at Ferrum and focus on the emphasis areas of Animal Science, Agribusiness, Agronomy, Horticulture and Equine Studies.  

On the day prior to the kick off, VWCC faculty will be participating in the Virginia-North Carolina AgBio Conference in Danville. This meeting will convene policy makers, farmers, thought leaders, educators, public health officials and industry partners to bring innovative bioscience and technology to the farms. 

“As a 6th generation farmer in this region, the launch of this program really touches my heart because I know how much of a difference it will make in putting students on the path to personal and professional success,” White said. “The local agriculture industry impacts our lives in countless ways on a daily basis, and by passing on the best practices and most up-to-date knowledge and technology, we can ensure it continues to thrive for decades to come. Agriculture is vital to the health and economic success of our region, and it is our privilege to contribute to this robust and dynamic industry. “

For more details about the Agriculture Program, visit http://virginiawestern.edu/academics/stem/programs/sciagri.php or call the School of STEM at 540-857-7273.

Summer Registration now open; Use Navigate to meet with advisers

Registration for Virginia Western Community College’s 2019 Summer Semester is now open. Current and new students can apply and enroll at www.virginiawestern.edu or in person at the college’s Enrollment Center in Chapman Hall.

Summer Semester classes begin on May 20 for the first five-week and 10-week sessions. Classes begin on June 25 for the second five-week session. Students from other colleges and universities returning home for the summer are encouraged to get ahead with classes at Virginia Western that will transfer with them. A complete listing of classes can be found at: http://virginiawestern.edu/classes/index.php.

New for this summer, students have control of scheduling and managing appointments with their advisors through Navigate. It has never been easier to get help with registration at a time that fits your schedule. For information on how to use Navigate online, visit: http://www.virginiawestern.edu/advising/schedule_an_appointment.php.

Students can also use the Navigate Student mobile app to make appointments. Visit The Apple Store (URL https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/navigate-student/id950433229?mt=8) or Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eab.se&hl=en_US) to download the Navigate Student app, published by EAB Global. Then, log in using your MyVWCC username and password and choose Appointments.

Returning Virginia Western students will be able to use priority enrollment, once they meet with an advisor, to register for 2019 Fall Semester on April 1. Open enrollment for Fall begins on April 15. Fall Semester begins Aug. 26 and ends on Dec. 19. A wide array of fast-track courses are available to get you into a new and higher-paying career quickly.

Cooke named new manager at Hall Associates Career Center

At the start of the Spring 2019 semester, the Hall Associates Career Center at Virginia Western Community College welcomed a new manager.

Although Shonny Cooke’s title is new, she is already well-acquainted with the Career Center. She first joined Virginia Western in 2012, where she managed internship programs and acted as an employment relations specialist. In 2015, Cooke left to pursue another opportunity, but it wasn’t long before she was back on campus.

“The Career Center is that place where you see the impact that happens when the right education and career training meet opportunity,” Cooke said. “I love hearing from students who come back and tell you how this changed their life. You really do know you’ve made a difference.”

The Hall Associates Career Center is a free service that can be accessed by any Virginia Western student or alumnus. It is located on the second floor of Virginia Western’s Student Life Center, which underwent a significant renovation in 2014 including the addition of a fitness center and student activities space. The Career Center is named for Hall Associates, the Roanoke-based real estate management firm founded by Edwin C. Hall, a longtime member of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation Board of Directors.

While career services divisions are common at four-year colleges and universities, they remain a rarity at community colleges. But they can play a critical role in students’ success, Hall said. “With the help of the Career Center staff’s professional guidance, students can have a means to immediately seek employment after graduation.”

Providing real-time information on the regional market is a key. Career Center staff study labor market data and talk with local employers, Cooke said. “We are constantly asking, ‘What are the jobs, who’s hiring, what are the requirements and how can we help our students compete for those opportunities?’ ” she said.

The Career Center offers three primary types of services to current students and alumni:

  • Career planning: This includes a career assessment and one-on-one advising that focuses more on a student’s professional path that aligns with his or her academic plan. “We ask, ‘What do you really want to do? What are your interests and strengths? Do you have a certain passion or purpose that can lead to a profession?’ ” Cooke said.
  • Career preparation: “We connect what you’re learning in the classroom to employment.” Free workshops focus on how to write your resume for today’s HR managers, how to prepare for an interview and how to communicate the skills you possess to employers.
  • Career opportunities: Through its online job bank, career fairs, job shadowing opportunities and supervised internships, the Career Center helps students gain professional connections and relevant work experience. “We want to make sure we guide you toward employers that are hiring in that field – that we are opening up pipelines of opportunities for our students and alumni.”

Cooke earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and African-American studies from the University of Virginia at a time when college officials at many schools told students “what you majored in didn’t matter, just that you had the degree,” she said.  “I found out the hard way how important it is for your educational path to align with your career goal.”

After graduation, Cooke experienced a few false starts before landing a position as a training coordinator for at-risk youth. That job ignited her passion for career services. “What really interests me is trying to help others figure out the best pathway and being able to witness someone set a career goal, commit to the education and training it takes to get there, and land that opportunity,” she said.

Over two decades, Cooke has used her expertise in career education training and services to help students and companies alike. She’s developed and led training sessions for IT professionals, as well as workers in other industries. Cooke has created courses that help the unemployed gain the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the job market. She’s also passionate about helping business owners and other employers learn how Virginia Western students and alumni can meet their needs.

The Career Center invites employers to visit campus, interview students and make them aware of job openings. But before that happens, Career Center employees assess students’ abilities and help them fill in knowledge or experience gaps. “We need to know what our local employers are looking for but also make sure our students are prepared, so they can meet those expectations.”

The Career Center also aims to serve as a key conduit for employers who want to connect with the College in ways outside of direct hiring. Through its Workforce Solutions Division, for example, the College can develop customized training for employees in on-site classes that can cover leadership, team training, OSHA-mandated education or be built around a new initiative, such as a software launch. 

“The Career Center will be responsive to what we’re hearing from employers and communicate it back to the College,” Cooke said.  “We want to be a key connection point for business and industry, regardless of what their needs are.”

For more information on the Hall Associates Career Center, go to www.virginiawestern.edu/careercenter.

Strauss Family awarded Community College Impact Award

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation presented the 2019 Community College Impact Award to Maury L. Strauss and the Strauss Family, in recognition of his $1 million naming gift in support of the Virginia Western Forward Endowment Fund: A Vision of Dr. Charles W. Steger Jr. The award was presented Wednesday at the Educational Foundation’s Annual Scholarship and Awards Ceremony.

One of the highest honors the College can bestow, the Community College Impact Award serves to recognize significant philanthropic and community support by individuals, corporations or organizations that will provide perpetuating benefits for Virginia Western, its students and the region at large.

Virginia Western Community College dedicated the Maury & Sheila Strauss Family Student Life Center in January 2019 in recognition of Strauss’ visionary leadership in support of student success and regional economic development.

“Maury is a very special human being,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “We are honored to celebrate this vision of the Strauss family’s philanthropy, which will make a true difference in our students’ lives, and will help drive a strong future for our community.”

Strauss, founder of Strauss Development Corp. and a longtime community benefactor, said he believes in giving back to the community that helped build his business and a home for his family. Virginia Western “holds a warm spot in his heart” for the power that higher education brings to the lives of its students. Sheila Strauss, a well-known supporter of the arts and nonprofit organizations in the Roanoke Valley, passed away in 2016.

The $1 million gift from the Strauss family launched the public phase of the Educational Foundation’s unrestricted endowment initiative, the Virginia Western Forward Endowment Fund, a vision of Dr. Charles W. Steger Jr., named in honor of the Foundation’s late Board of Directors Chairman and President of Virginia Tech.  This unrestricted endowment effort will flexibly empower and sustain the college to address, now and in perpetuity, educational excellence in a rapidly-changing economic environment.

For more information about the Foundation’s annual Community Impact Award or the Virginia Western Forward Endowment Fund, contact Philanthropy Director Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.

Educational Foundation announces Spring Semester scholarships

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation awarded $118,833 in scholarships to 97 students during the 2019 spring semester at Virginia Western Community College. The scholarships are made possible by individuals and organizations who wish to support Virginia Western students pursuing general academic studies as well as specific programs such as dental hygiene, engineering and nursing.

Applications for 2019 fall semester scholarships are open March 18 through May 1, 2019.

To apply or learn more about this and other Virginia Western scholarships, go to virginiawestern.edu/scholarships. Or contact Scholarship Coordinator Carolyn Payne at (540) 857-6371 or cpayne@virginiawestern.edu.

Recipient Locality Spring 2019 Award
Bradley Dearing Bedford Al Pollard Memorial Foundation Chefs’ Competition Annual Scholarship
Zachary Doolittle Bedford Sallie and Elsie Williamson Endowed Scholarship
Olivia Wentworth Bedford Roanoke Valley Academy of Medicine Alliance Foundation Endowed Scholarship
Amelia Whitehead Bedford Fred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship
Ruth Beard Botetourt County Donald Willson Memorial Scholarship
Denise Bibby Botetourt County Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Abe Diviney Botetourt County Employee Giving Annual Scholarship
Lauri Foutz Botetourt County Foot Levelers Endowed Scholarship
Abigail Long Botetourt County Kiwanis Club of Botetourt County Endowed Scholarship
Melissa Ann Spangler Botetourt County Judy Hackworth Memorial Annual Scholarship
Cameron Zerrilla Botetourt County Kiwanis Club of Botetourt County Endowed Scholarship
Morgan Murray Covington Dr. Donna Harpold Memorial Annual Scholarship
Michael Whittaker Floyd County Al Pollard Memorial Foundation Chefs’ Competition Annual Scholarship
Renee Cundiff Franklin County Fred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship
Amber Didlake Franklin County Shentel Foundation Annual Scholarship
Alyssa Fadorick Franklin County Nicholas E. Janney Memorial Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Cody Gump Franklin County Alumni Association Annual Book Scholarship & William Milton Meador Endowed Scholarship
Garrison Jamison Franklin County Michael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Laura Livingston Franklin County Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Kassie Martin Franklin County Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Jackson Olsson Franklin County Appalachian Power Endowed Scholarship
Savanna Reed Franklin County Brown & Sons Farm Annual Scholarship
Sherman Witcher Franklin County Continental Societies Endowed Scholarship & Lorraine Pleasants Memorial Annual Scholarship
Bryan Poole Giles County Al Pollard Memorial Foundation Chefs’ Competition Annual Scholarship
Elsa Ledyard Henry County Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Amanda Chrisley Montgomery County Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Sarah Gentry Montgomery County American Sign Language Endowed Scholarship in Memory of Laura Knight Schowe & The Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship
Jaeyun Han Montgomery County Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Sima Aghdasi Roanoke City Refugee Annual Scholarship
Brian Amend Roanoke City LewisGale Medical Center Endowed Scholarship
Kimberly Archer Roanoke City Dennis L. & Hazel Phillips Blalock Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Taylor Bowen Roanoke City Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Venecia Brown Roanoke City Col. William Preston Chapter NSDAR Annual Scholarship
Erika Buck Roanoke City Michael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Elizabeth Campos Roanoke City Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Lydia Christopher Roanoke City Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Eric Gonzalez-Heredia Roanoke City Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Elizabeth Hollingsworth Roanoke City Michael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Bradley Hugus Roanoke City Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Miranda Hurd Roanoke City Dr. Donna Harpold Memorial Annual Scholarship
Megan Lukity Roanoke City Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Maryna Mabes Roanoke City Accounting Annual Scholarship for Adult Learners
Sabin Mainali Roanoke City Refugee Annual Scholarship
Jessica Marine Roanoke City Dr. George K. Bowers Youth Haven-Sanctuary Annual Scholarship
Amanda McKinney Roanoke City Petroleum Marketers, Inc. Endowed Scholarship
Sofiia Melnyk Roanoke City Cabell Brand Center Gap Scholarship Fund for Student Interns & Shenandoah Life Annual Diversity Scholarship
Rebecca Moore Roanoke City Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship & Orrin Clifton Annual Scholarship
Monique Morris Roanoke City Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Asira Nimukuze Roanoke City Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Ja’Monda Nowlin Roanoke City Beverly and Leon Harris Occupational/Technical Annual Scholarship & Mr. & Mrs. Emanuel Payne Endowed Scholarship
Lauren Oliveira Roanoke City Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship & Peter and Roseta Skelly Endowed Scholarship
Neel Patel Roanoke City McFarland Endowed Scholarship
Raina Peterson Roanoke City Pearman Annual Scholarship
Reba Pickeral Roanoke City Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Ren Robinson Roanoke City Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Jonathan Rodriguez Roanoke City Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Ashley Roop Roanoke City Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Jamie Sievers Roanoke City Michael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Angela Taylor Roanoke City Hunting Hills Garden Club Annual Scholarship & Smith Mountain Lake Garden Club Annual Scholarship
Daijah Thomas Roanoke City Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Cori Van Scott Roanoke City John Morris Roslyn Educational Scholarship & The Flippin Family Endowed Scholarship
Timothy Vaughan Roanoke City Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Aminata Yarmah Roanoke City Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Jacquelyn Bridgman Roanoke County Alice Becker Hinchcliffe Williams Endowed Scholarship
Hannah Brinner Roanoke County Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Joshua Chick Roanoke County Walter Darnall Vinyard Endowed Scholarship
Shannon Christian Roanoke County Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Rachel Davis Roanoke County John Hall and Chris Tucker Honorary Endowed Scholarship
Juvissa Ehrich Roanoke County Gordon C. and Jean Willis Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Hunter Harless Roanoke County Bank of Botetourt H. Watts Steger, III Annual Scholarship
Lexi Lawrence Roanoke County Odasz Annual Scholarship
Ebony Lynch-Thomas Roanoke County African-American Railroad Heritage Annual Scholarship & Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Rachel Martin Roanoke County Michael E. Warner Memorial Annual Scholarship
Haley Mayhew Roanoke County Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Colleen Morrison Roanoke County Business, Technology & Trades Annual Scholarship in honor of Deborah A. Yancey & The Neall Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship
Monica Paitsel Roanoke County Dr. Kevin Conway Endowed Scholarship & Walter Darnall Vinyard Endowed Scholarship
Laurel Shelton Roanoke County Richard J. Gaynor Memorial Scholarship
Haven Starling Roanoke County David L. Nickerson Honorary Endowed Scholarship
Jana Underwood Roanoke County Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Samantha Wagner Roanoke County Fred Whitaker Company Annual Scholarship
Ali Zifan Roanoke County Connie Stephens May Scholarship
Tyler Mundy Rockbridge County Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Jessie Barcelo Salem Dennis Spaulding Memorial Developmental Scholarship
Braxton Berkel Salem Alumni Association Annual Book Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Chasity Easter Salem Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Kaylie Foutz Salem Judy Hackworth Memorial Annual Scholarship
Jessica Graham Salem Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Samuel Green Salem Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Jordan Horn Salem Al Pollard Memorial Scholarship for the Culinary Arts
Sara Hylton Salem Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Enas Iskander Salem Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Maya Lamprinakos Salem Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship
Brooke Rakes Salem Gertrude Light Hubbard Endowed Scholarship & Educational Foundation Textbook Scholarship
Joshua Ulmer Salem Beverly Day Williamson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship
Deana Valade Salem Martha and William Adams Trust Scholarship