Posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tidewater Community College: 1 degree in STEM, $0 in tuition

Submitted by Laura Sanford, Campus Communications Officer

Tidewater Community College’s Educational Foundation has established a program designed to boost the number of women and minorities graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Program, a philanthropic effort, will start with the 2017-18 academic year. Initially, 10 scholarships covering 100 percent of tuition and fees will be awarded to high-performing students. The initial investment will cover 30 students.

A variety of VIPs were on hand for the program’s rollout including Governor Terry McAuliffe; Virginia Secretary of Commerce Todd Haymore; Nathalie Molliet-Ribet, Virginia’s deputy secretary of education for higher education; and Vice Chancellor Sharon Morrissey of the Virginia Community College System.

“This is a really big deal for TCC and for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “We are sending a very strong message to employers around the globe that we are open for business but most importantly, we are making sure more women get into these STEM fields.”

He called TCC “the greatest community college in the United States of America.”

Last year, McAuliffe noted that the Commonwealth had 149,000 open tech jobs. “Let’s be crystal clear; we have to fill them here, so they don’t go to another state,” he said. “TCC is connecting education with jobs that exist.”

TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani said earlier, “We have come to associate the word ‘promise’ with free college education because of such programs as the Tennessee Promise.

“TCC is not just making a promise,” she said. “We’re making a commitment.”

Kolovani remarked that TCC listens to employers’ needs and responds with the academic programs and training they need to build their workforce.

“Demand for workers with skills in the higher paying STEM fields is expected to continue to outpace demand for non-STEM workers over the next decade,” she said. “We want to prepare our workforce to meet immediate and future needs.”

“This is what the foundation is all about. It’s a gift to be here,” observed Mike King, chair of TCC’s Educational Foundation. “A TCC education opens many doors.”  

The new scholarship program is named for the TCC Women’s Center because it is funded in part by a bequest in 2011 from the estate of Alexsandria Manrov of Norfolk in honor of her late daughter, Dr. Alexsandria Manrov. Dr. Manrov, who taught science at TCC for many years, died in 1997 at the age of 54.

“Alex considered TCC her family, and her mother wanted to honor that and make sure some young women would be able to benefit from her estate,” John Thomas, a long-time family friend, said at the time. Since then, the college has annually awarded Manrov Scholarships for women in STEM.

The critical need for diversity in the STEM workforce drove the college to expand the pipeline of STEM students. “Tech industries say they need a diverse workforce, yet 84 percent of the science and engineering workforce is white or Asian male,” Kolovani said.

She noted, however, that anyone may apply for the program.

TCC alumna Carol Curtis, owner of the general contracting firm NOAH Enterprises, talked about her journey to success, which began at TCC. “I came to TCC to study accounting but found my passion in dirt and concrete, and switched to civil engineering technology,” she said. “I encourage all young people to discover what they love because once they do that, success will follow.”

The TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Scholarship will pay the full cost of tuition for up to four semesters.

To be eligible, a student must:

  • Be eligible for in-state tuition;
  • Have a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher; and
  • Place into College Composition (English 111) and College Algebra (Math 158) or higher.

Scholarship recipients also must enroll as full-time students in one of these programs.


CAPTION: TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani and Gov. Terry McAuliffe join other dignitaries at the TCC Women’s Center STEM Promise Program announcement.


ESCC Working To Help Low Income Students Succeed

Submitted by Teresa Guy, Career Pathways Coordinator, Eastern Shore Community College, Workforce Development Services

Eastern Shore Community College (ESCC) is one of 19 colleges participating in a national initiative entitled the Working Students Success Network (WSSN), which is sponsored by Achieving the Dream and funded by five national foundations: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and MetLife Foundation.

According to their website, “Achieving the Dream believes that access to a high quality education in an inclusive environment is the right of all individuals and imperative for the continued advancement of a strong democracy and workforce. Our growing network of community colleges across the country improves student success for more than 4 million students. We are a catalyst for providing ways for colleges to strengthen and build their capacity to ensure that more students complete their college education and have more opportunity for economic success … Four key areas for the WSSN initiative are community engagement, financial literacy, student-centered supports, and workforce preparation.”

ESCC was one of 16 colleges originally funded in 2014 after a rigorous application process. In part, ESCC was selected due to the significant work it was already doing with local community partnerships and a team of academic and career coaches who work alongside students to assist them with academic and career success. The focus on financial literacy and public benefits access was very much in alignment with ESCC’s active involvement with Community Partners of the Eastern Shore (CPES) and the Navy Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union. The mission of CPES is to develop, sustain, and coordinate a comprehensive network of area service providers to support individuals and families of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The vision is to equip and empower individuals and families to achieve and maintain stability and self-sufficiency.

ESCC has been working with community partners to provide students with non-academic support that will increase the likelihood of academic success. Since WSSN promotes the importance of having a sustainable living wage and moving from poverty to self-sufficiency, the active partnerships between ESCC and area service providers aid students in reaching their goals and having greater financial well-being. The ability to maintain stability and self-sufficiency are enhanced when students receive the support services needed while completing their programs of study. For instance, students who may be in need of housing, employment, health insurance, or food have the opportunity to receive information about area jobs and service providers and are provided with support in accessing these services.

The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore has been a strong ally in the efforts to reduce food insecurity and hunger among college students and their families. Through WSSN, ESCC and the Foodbank have partnered to provide a monthly mobile food pantry service on campus for students. This led to the development of an on-site food pantry. Reducing hunger and increasing thinking power is one of many ways that ESCC supports students and links them to vital services in the community.

ESCC will continue to enhance and expand services that benefit students and help them achieve their academic and career goals. Grant initiatives such as WSSN are instrumental in keeping the college on the cutting edge of how best to support students and prevent them from dropping out due to barriers that come from financial pressures, limited resources, and unexpected hurdles. Financial and consumer education along with financial aid and emergency scholarships all play a key role in student persistence and completion, thereby, creating a stronger workforce with greater economic impact.


Thanks to these ESCC students, faculty and staff who participated a “Hunger Awareness” event on campus this spring.


SWCC President Crafts Piece of History

As reported in the 2/7/17 issue of the Statewide Syllabus, SWCC president Mark Estepp created the ceremonial mace that represents the 23 colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The college mace is the premier symbol of the academic procession of college administrators, faculty, staff, and most importantly, students.  Crafted from cherry wood from the farm of SWCC faculty member, Jereial Fletcher, the mace was officially dedicated at the State Board Meeting on May 18th. In a gesture of thanks, Chancellor DuBois presented an official resolution to Estepp and his wife, Trish, for their efforts to create this lasting piece of VCCS history.

Dr. Mark Estepp In Appreciation for the Woodworking Artistry of A Community College Leader

WHEREAS, Dr. Mark Estepp has served with distinction as the president of Southwest Community College for more than a decade; and

WHEREAS, Dr. Estepp, over the course of his lifetime, has practiced and refined an impressive, artistic, and masterful set of woodworking skills; and

WHEREAS, For more than two calendar years, Dr. Estepp has volunteered no fewer than 150 hours designing and hand-crafting a ceremonial mace for the System Office of Virginia’s Community Colleges; and

WHEREAS, the mace is an ancient symbol of authority and a powerful reminder of the obligation we hold as institutions of higher education to grant individuals great power through the enduring traditions of teaching and learning; and

WHEREAS, the VCCS Mace was created from century-old cherry wood grown on the farm of a SWCC faculty member, with unique “spalting” patterns of color and texture that are created by fungi, stress, and water exposure over an extended period of time, it embodies Virginia’s rich, agrarian history; and

WHEREAS, the VCCS Mace is decorated with a specialized, engraved, round, stainless steel panel, containing the initials of all 23 Virginia community colleges, crafted by a company located near Bedford, it symbolizes Virginia’s promising high-tech future; and

WHEREAS, the handcrafted VCCS Mace stand was harvested from recycled cherry wood from Dr. Estepp’s home place in the southern region of West Virginia, it represents the power Virginia’s Community Colleges have to help people reinvent themselves;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the State Board for Community Colleges does hereby express its grateful appreciation for Dr. Estepp for the time, passion, artistry, and hard work that resulted in such a stunning and regal VCCS Mace; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State Board does hereby direct that a copy of this resolution be given to Dr. Estepp as an additional token of the esteem of the members of this State Board.

To read more about the mace, please click HERE.'

Laura Osberger

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