Community Colleges Adapt to a New Normal While Continuing to Help Communities in Need

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Editor’s note: This is the third installment in our story on how Virginia’s Community Colleges are responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, John Tyler Community College hosted a Red Cross blood drive. The Red Cross says the donations that were made have the potential to save up to 90 lives.

And, for the first time ever, JTCC is holding a Maymester – short, online classes that will run from May 15th through June 7th. The idea is to help students who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and Virginia’s stay at home order catch up or get ahead in their college education.

Patrick Henry Community College has announced plans to hold a virtual graduation ceremony on the same day and time that the 2020 ceremony was originally scheduled. Instead of having students walk across a stage, the college will display each graduate’s picture as their names, degrees/credentials, and honors are announced. The graduates, along with friends and family, can watch the ceremony via Facebook Live.

Associate Professor of Nursing/Skills and Simulation Lab Coordinator Lucy Little and EMS Program Director Paul Ruppert load boxes of PPEs

PHCC President Angeline Godwin, who will address the students and formally confer their degrees, says their graduates have earned the right to be recognized.

“Even though we can’t meet in person, we felt it was important to recognize this historic class of graduates and come together –virtually- as a PH-family to celebrate our students.”

Paul D. Camp Community College will also be hosting a virtual graduation ceremony. The event is scheduled for May 8th.

Meanwhile, the college continues to respond to the needs of the community it serves. Camp’s Nursing and Allied Health Department has donated more than 1,000 articles of personal protective equipment to Bon Secours Southampton Memorial Hospital, Franklin Fire and Rescue Department and Sentara Obici Hospital.

Practical Nursing faculty member Laurel Wright and Fast Track Healthcare Coordinator Dawn Womble (pictured below) delivered 105 much-needed boxes of latex gloves from the college’s nursing programs to Bon Secours Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin and Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk.

Practical Nursing faculty member Laurel Wright and Fast Track Healthcare Coordinator Dawn Womble strike a pose after loading boxes of supplies destined for Suffolk-area hospitals

“We are glad to help our program partners and others in our community any way we can,” said Womble. “This is what we do.”

Tidewater Community College has its neighbors’ back. Students in the college’s Chesapeake Campus’ Horticulture program have donated a greenhouse full of vegetables and herbs to provide salads and healthy sides for families in need.

The greenhouse created by TCC horticulture students.

“When our spring plant sale was cancelled because of the worldwide pandemic, we knew we had to do something to help people in need,” said Andrea Tomlin, assistant professor and program head for Horticulture.

Tomlin’s Crop Production students worked all semester growing plants and herbs, including heirloom tomatoes, peppers, oregano, parsley, sage and even insect-pollinating plants.

The Horticulture program donated five truckloads of plants to Healthy Chesapeake and its Food Connection program.

“With this amazing, huge windfall, our gardens will be able to feed even more people,” said Calib Miller, food connection program manager with Healthy Chesapeake.

Miller called the donation “an incredible boon and bounty for us.”


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