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            [post_title] => Foundation Scholar Ida Thompson Looks to the Future
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April 12-14 - VCCS New Horizons Conference

April 18  - The Chancellor's Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

May 19 - Graduation for Great Expectations students

December 6-8 - Hire Education Conference


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RichmondAngelica Garcia faced a tough decision. The 2014 graduate of Eastern Shore Community College could attend the University of Virginia this fall or the aspiring artist could sign the record deal Warner Brothers Records offered her. While everyone’s options are different, Garcia says attending community college is a big part of her success.

[caption id="attachment_14692" align="alignright" width="300"]Garcia Angelica Garcia speaks as a member of the 2013 Class of Valley Proteins Fellows.[/caption]

“I feel so completely glad that I went to a community college and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I got to do all of this without accumulating some massive debt. Those, overall, are probably two of the best and smartest years of my life,” Garcia said. She is among a group of students that is growing and thriving throughout Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS).

Hispanic and Latino students are attending Virginia’s 23 community colleges in record numbers, achieving greater academic success and earning more transfer-oriented credentials than ever before. That is according to analysis of student enrollment between the years 2009-2013 presented to the State Board for Community Colleges. Hispanic and Latino student enrollment grew nearly 58 percent during that period and the number of Hispanic graduates increased 150 percent.

“This is encouraging news,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the VCCS. “Our community colleges exist to provide every Virginia family with affordable access to higher education and we are here to help them turn that opportunity into a college credential. Virginia’s Hispanic and Latino population has doubled since this century began. Our ability to serve these families will determine their economic future, and Virginia’s, for decades to come.”

“That’s the dream, right?”

Garcia, who is deferring her UVa acceptance for a year, decided to sign the record deal.

“That’s the dream, right? Everyone wants to go to school and get an education but people sometimes feel like it’s not available to them. But the community colleges are great and people are seeing that.”

Garcia grew up in Southern California before moving to Virginia. She was accepted to Bennington College out of high school. She decided against attending what she describes as a “great school,” believing that the private college’s costs “were unfair to my parents.”

“It just made so much more sense to me [to attend a community college.] It just seemed like a way better deal than trying to go away to school. “Garcia said she is not surprised to see more Hispanic and Latino students pursuing a community college education, especially given its convenience and quality.

“For a lot of my Latino and Latina friends, one of the big fears is that if I go away to school then I cannot help my family. A lot of times parents have anxiety about letting their kids go away to school. I’m so glad community colleges are there and they can act like a bridge for these families,” Garcia said.

Serving a Growing Population

Virginia’s Hispanic and Latino population has grown dramatically since 2000, now representing 8.6 percent of the state, compared to just 5.8 percent of the enrollment at Virginia’s public universities. The interesting findings of the 2008-2013 enrollments include:

  • Hispanic student enrollment grew nearly 58%, outpacing non-Hispanic enrollment growth.
  • First generation Hispanic students increased more than six-fold, from 814 to nearly 6,000.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of today’s VCCS Hispanic students is first-generation.
  • More Hispanic students today (58%) are enrolling in transfer-oriented associate degree programs than five years ago (51%).
  • The number of Hispanic students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs has doubled over the past five years. Today, more than one in six Hispanic students are enrolled in STEM.
  • Hispanic student GPAs are rising. Three quarters earned a GPA of 2.0 or better in 2012-13, compared to 70% five years ago.
  • The percentage of Hispanic students earning more than 30 credits in the VCCS increased from 25.7% to 31.3%
  • More Hispanic students are graduating. The number of Hispanic graduates rose from 714 to 1,777 over the past five years, an increase of 150%.

Essential Transfer Opportunities

[caption id="attachment_14693" align="alignright" width="300"]Armando Vega Armando Vega, Jr. met Governor Terry McAuliffe at the 2014 VCCS Legislative Reception.[/caption]

Armando Vega, Jr. is a 2014 graduate of Tidewater Community College who will be taking advantage of an offer to attend UVa in the fall. The former U.S. Navy sailor said financial consideration forced him to pass on an earlier opportunity to attend American University. The guaranteed transfer agreements between the VCCS and 30 public and private universities kept his dreams alive.

“The price of tuition is great but more than anything, what the VCCS offered was the articulation agreements. That was key for me,” Vega said.

Vega said his professors were first rate and that his community college’s diversity and inclusive nature was good preparation.

“Our country is becoming more and more diverse. Learning how to work well with everyone is becoming key, especially if you’re looking to do anything in business on a larger scale,” he said.


See the Student Success Snapshot detailing these enrollment trends for more information.


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve nearly 400,000 students a year.  For more information, please visit


Photo at top, Angelica Garcia was a featured performer at the 2013 Valley Proteins Dinner, and has signed a record contract with Warner Brothers Records. 

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Dorcas red suit (3)RICHMOND – Dorcas Helfant-Browning, whose mother was a “Rosie Riveter” during World War ll, says she’s honored to begin her one-year term as chair of the State Board for Community Colleges.

“Whenever you have the opportunity to serve, your job is to direct traffic and solve the goals of the system and stay on target.”

A self-styled Facebook “junkie,” Helfant-Browning says one of the biggest challenges facing the State Board in the coming year is learning to do more differently because the Commonwealth can no longer count on government contracting and the presence of government to be the state’s “growth employer.

“Therefore, we need to look at attracting more business and industry that can bring jobs to that skilled workforce which we have and creating the environment that the Commonwealth is the place to do business and to be headquartered.”

From an academic perspective, Helfant–Browning says Virginia’s Community Colleges are doing a good job of attracting younger students who need a pathway to four-year institutions. “We’re also identifying that not everyone needs a full academic set of credentials. But they need a credential to maximize their ability to be productive members of society. That’s equally important to the board members understanding for the commonwealth to grow and prosper – we must have a workforce that is either educated, certified or a combination of those things.”

Born in West Virginia, Helfant-Browning currently resides in Virginia Beach where she enjoys working out on a regular basis.

“I always feel like I’m being mentally challenged. But I like to physically challenge myself, weights and light cardio and those type things to keep me in shape.”

Helfant-Browning was appointed to the State Board by Gov. Tim Kaine in 2009 and was reappointed in 2011 by Gov. Bob McDonnell. She previously served eight years, including three terms as chair, on the Tidewater Community College local board. She currently serves as liaison to both Tidewater and Paul D. Camp community colleges.                

Also taking on a new role on the board is Idalia Fernandez. She becomes the board’s vice chair, the title previously held by Helfant-Browning.

Fernandez is president of the Hispanic College Fund, a $6 million non-profit that supports Hispanic students. In her role, she oversees developmental programs, fundraising and finances of the fund.

She was also appointed to the State Board for Community Colleges in 2009 by Gov. Tim Kaine and currently serves as liaison to Lord Fairfax Community College.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 405,000 students each year in both academic and workforce training programs. For more information, please visit

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State Board for Community Colleges July 2014 Business Meeting 

RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges will convene its regular meeting on Thursday, July 17, at 9 a.m. in the Godwin-Hamel Board Room, James Monroe Building, 101 N. 14th Street, 15th floor, Richmond.

State Board Committees will meet on Wednesday, July 16. The Academic, Student Affairs and Workforce Development Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee meet at 1:30 p.m.; the Facilities Committee and the Personnel Committee meet at 3 p.m.; and the Audit Committee meets at 3:30 p.m.

A complete agenda is available online here:


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 405,000 students each year. For more information, please visit

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RICHMOND –The next president of Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) is Dr. Alfred A. Roberts, of Emporia, Virginia. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, said Roberts will assume his new post on or about Aug. 1, 2014, replacing retiring president Dr. John Cavan.

“I’ve known Al for a long time and I have observed his leadership at SVCC for many years,” DuBois said in making the appointment. “I’m confident he will do a terrific job in taking the college to the next level.”

Roberts is currently provost of SVCC’s Christanna Campus in Alberta, a position he has held since 2012. He served as provost of the John H. Daniel Campus of SVCC, in Keysville, from 2010-2012.  Prior to that, he was vice president of workforce services at SVCC. His career at SVCC began in 1995 when he assumed the role of administrator for student support services.

“The Southside Virginia Community College Board unanimously supports Dr. Roberts as our next president,” said Dr. Charlette T. Woolridge, acting chair of the College Board. “We are very pleased and excited to have a solid and experienced new president with proven leadership, expertise to advance educational and workforce development programs to prepare students for the 21st century economy, a commitment to working with the Southside Virginia community and leaders to strengthen our economy, and more. We look forward to his leadership in our region.”

“We set a high standard and spent many hours in our search, with input from stakeholders at the state and local levels,” said Dr. Nancy Carwile, College Board member and former chair. “In all areas, Dr. Roberts was first among well-qualified candidates. Our hearts were in this process and Dr. Roberts' heart is also in this work as SVCC moves forward.”

Roberts says the presidency is “a great opportunity for me to give back to the community that has done so much for me.”

“I have a real commitment to a high level of community engagement; to quality academic programs; and to workforce training and development,” he said. “It will be a challenge to follow in Dr. Cavan’s footsteps, but also a tremendous opportunity to advance the mission of the college and enhance its reputation as a world class, 21st century community college.”

Before joining SVCC, Roberts was program director for Sussex-Greensville-Emporia Adult Activity Services and also taught radio and television production classes at Norfolk State University.

He received his doctorate from Old Dominion University, his master’s from Virginia State University and his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.

The longest serving president in the VCCS, Cavan has presided over SVCC since 1983.


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve an estimated 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit




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RICHMOND —The State Board for Community Colleges established the 2014-2015 in-state tuition and mandatory fees rate at $136 per credit hour by unanimous vote at its regular May meeting. Beginning this fall, in-state students will pay an additional $6.00 per credit hour, which means the cost of a typical three-hour class will increase by $18.00 and the cost of a full-time load of classes for the year will increase by $180.

Virginia’s Community Colleges will use the tuition increase to bolster its student services across the state. These resources, that include financial aid counseling and academic coaching, are a growing priority for helping first-generation students and those from underrepresented populations. The increase will also fund higher employee health insurance and retirement costs; utility and technology costs; and the costs of operating new facilities.

“Today’s tuition decision strikes an importance balance between ensuring that Virginians have affordable access to higher education and that we have the people and resources in place to help them succeed when they arrive at one of our community colleges,” said Bruce J. Meyer, chair of the State Board for Community Colleges.

Keeping a public promise

The board’s tuition decision is in accord with Achieve 2015, the VCCS six-year strategic plan that calls for keeping community college tuition and fee rates at one-half or less than that of the comparable rates at Virginia’s four-year universities.    

Currently, tuition and mandatory fees at Virginia’s Community Colleges are just over one-third (37 percent) of the average of comparable tuition and fees charged by Virginia’s public four-year institutions.

Tuition differentials

The State Board also agreed to increase the tuition differential rate for Northern Virginia Community College by $1.50 per credit hour. Even with the differential, NVCC’s tuition remains the lowest among comparable colleges in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Further, the board approved an increase of $1.00 per credit hour to the tuition differential rate for Piedmont Virginia Community College.

The tuition differential rates for J. Sargeant Reynolds ($3.10), Tidewater ($1.00), Thomas Nelson ($1.00) and Virginia Western ($1.00) community colleges were unchanged from last year.

Out-of-state tuition

The State Board increased the tuition rate for out-of-state students by $6.00 per credit hour to a total of $330.60 per credit hour. Out-of-state students make up approximately 5-percent of the total enrollment of Virginia’s Community Colleges.


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve an estimated 400,000 students a year. For more information, please visit


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